The Friends of Kuala Gula Mangrove or known as Sahabat Hutan Bakau Kuala Gula (SHBKG) commemorated its 10th anniversary by planting 5000 mangrove saplings at three hectares of degraded land in Teluk Rubiah Forest Reserve recently.
The event was officially launched by Dato’ Dr Hj. Noor Azmi Bin Hj. Ghazali, Member of Parliament for Bagan Serai and participated by 200 volunteers from local communities, school children, government agencies and private sectors.
SHBKG was initiated by Global Environment Centre (GEC) in recognition of the need for involvement of local communities in mangrove rehabilitation programme.
“Starting with a group of 40 members in 2006, the SHBKG was initiated to be a part of Kuala Gula Mangrove conservation and rehabilitation programme. Ten years on, the group has an additional 20 volunteers and has achieved tremendous success. Since its establishment, they have replanted a total of 120,398 mangrove saplings covering approximately 90 hectares of the degraded mangrove area; annually raised about 30,000 mangrove seedlings in their nursery; monitoring and patrolling the mangrove area from encroachment and illegal activities; participated in public events and conferences to disseminate and exchange information on mangrove issues at local to national level.
April 2014 marked the pinnacle of their achievements when the State Forestry Department gazetted 1502 hectares of Kuala Gula Mangrove as Teluk Rubiah Forest Reserve. This proves a point that community involvement plays a pivotal role in the success and sustainability of mangrove forest conservation and rehabilitation projects,” said Faizal Parish, Director of GEC.
Dato’ Dr Hj. Noor Azmi said, “The mangrove conservation and rehabilitation activities implemented by Sahabat Hutan Bakau Kuala Gula are parallel to the Federal and State Government initiatives and a part of the National Blue Ocean Strategy”. He congratulated SHBKG and GEC on the success achieved.
“We would like to thank GEC and the Perak State Forestry Department for the success that SHBKG has achieved in the past 10 years,” said Puji Astuti, Chairwoman of SHBKG. She added that this milestone proves that they are committed to continue to protect the Teluk Rubiah Forest Reserve.
Kuala Gula Mangrove is an area of importance to fishing activities which has supported the livelihood of the local communities. Kuala Gula Mangrove is one of the 10 eco-tourism areas in Perak and is recognised as a Bird Sanctuary and Important Bird Area (IBA) MY05 Matang Coast. Its mudflat and the swampy areas are perfect stopovers and feeding places for various species of migratory and resident birds.
The continuous threat from unsustainable construction of aquaculture farms, illegal harvesting of mangrove trees, encroachment, coastal erosion caused by increasing river traffic on the mangrove and its ecosystem, has indeed caused adverse impacts on the local communities who have been dependent of these natural sources for quite some time.
Conservation and rehabilitation programmes of Kuala Gula Mangrove are currently focusing on strengthening the SHBKG networks, establishing and promoting community initiative in non-timber forest products in addition to raising mangrove seedlings and replanting of mangrove saplings, patrolling, monitoring and awareness raising.