RM1.2 Million Allocated For Community-Based Mangrove Conservation and Sustainable Livelihood Programme 

Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and Global Environment Centre (GEC) are collaborating on a community-based mangrove conservation and sustainable livelihood programme to preserve and conserve the threatened mangrove coastlines from the effects of climate change and build sustainable livelihoods among the community members by restoring and maintaining mangrove forests in coastal landscapes. 

The programme was launched on March 18 at the Sime Darby Plantation Chersonese Estate, Kuala Gula in Kerian, Perak, by the Chief Operations Services Officer of Sime Darby Plantation Berhad, Adi Wira Abd Razak, in conjunction with the World Planting Day and International Day of Forests celebrated annually on March 21. It was also attended by the Head of Projects of Yayasan Sime Darby, Rozilah Abdul Rahman, and GEC’s Manager of Forest and Coastal Programme, Nagarajan Rengasamy. 

Tuan Adi Wira Abd Razak

The community-based mangrove conservation project is intended to benefit the B40 fishing communities in Kuala Gula and Sitiawan through a sustainable livelihood programme in both areas. The remedial action through this project involves mangrove restoration efforts by local communities to address coastal erosion within specific areas classified under the Risk 2 category for coastal erosion identified in the Perak State Structure Plan and by the Federal Town and Country Planning Department in Perak Darul Ridzuan (PLANMalaysia@Perak). 

YSD’s support will enable GEC to strengthen the sustainable management and use of mangrove and coastal resources to improve the community’s livelihood in the long run and enhance the institutional capacity of two local community organisations empowered to be guardians of the local mangrove and coastal resources, namely Sahabat Hutan Bakau Kuala Gula (SHBKG) and Sahabat Hutan Bakau Pasir Panjang Laut (SHBPPL). 

Chief Executive Officer of YSD, Dr Hjh Yatela Zainal Abidin, shared, “Coastal communities in Kuala Gula and Sitiawan have become some of the most vulnerable to the impacts of global climate breakdown, as the areas they live in are at high risk of coastal erosion. This programme is vital to address the threatened mangrove coastlines and enable the sustainable livelihoods of the residents in these two areas, mostly from the B40 group. By connecting people to nature, the programme will be able to fight climate change and assist the community in earning a good living.” 

“Previously, we had collaborated with GEC to successfully build the sustainable livelihoods of residents nearby the Raja Musa Forest Reserve in Selangor, while restoring 20 hectares of peat swamp forest and reducing peatland fire incidences significantly. Similarly in both projects, Sime Darby Plantation remains an important collaboration partner. Therefore, YSD is confident that this community-based mangrove conservation programme in Perak launched recently will prove to be successful for both the environment and community,” she added. 

“Sime Darby Plantation is honoured to be once again a part of the collaboration between GEC and Yayasan Sime Darby. In line with our commitment to sustainable practices, environmental conservation and climate action, we believe in supporting similar efforts by communities surrounding our operations. We applaud this initiative by GEC and the community-based organisations to rehabilitate the degraded mangrove areas adjacent to our Chersonese Estate. With the strong commitment clearly demonstrated by all project partners, we are confident that this conservation initiative will bear positive results in the long run,” said Adi Wira Abd Razak. 

The programme implementation, integrating climate change adaptation and risk mitigation at state and local levels, also equips rural communities with the necessary skills to protect themselves from increased coastal problems such as coastal flooding, high winds and waves, tsunami and rising sea levels due to climate change.

Director of GEC, Faizal Parish, said, “Mangrove forests play a critical role in coastal protection, as healthy mangroves minimise coastal erosion and reduce flood risks. However, unsustainable human activities, increasing sea levels, and coastal erosion pose a real threat to mangrove forests in Malaysia. One of the main contributing factors toward mangrove degradation in Kuala Gula and Sitiawan, Perak, is the lack of awareness amongst the stakeholders on the importance of mangroves. Through ongoing support from Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and government agencies, GEC is able to foster multi-stakeholder partnerships to initiate and implement a community-based mangrove management programme with the local communities SHBKG and SHBPPL. To date, the communities have successfully planted more than 15,000 mangrove trees at eight hectares of degraded mangroves in Kuala Gula and Pasir Panjang Laut areas, with the trees recording a survival rate of more than 75%. Through the programme, the communities are empowered to restore the health of the ecosystems in the local mangrove areas while enabling them to benefit from sustainable ecosystem services. Besides, GEC and YSD also collaborate with the communities to explore and develop social entrepreneurship opportunities involving sustainable mangrove-based food products to generate additional income for community members. I am confident that with the great commitment shown by YSD, SHBKG, SHBPPL and government agencies since the commencement of this project in the year 2020, we can continue to create a positive impact for the mangrove ecosystems here.” 

An effective model to establish social entrepreneurship involving the networks of local groups and communities will also be developed to empower the womenfolk, especially homemakers, to find alternative livelihood through Non-Timber Forest Product, or NTFP-based cottage industry such as mangrove-based food products, salted fish, shrimp paste, and dried shrimp. 

The launch also featured an episode from the Layar Liar Malaysia documentary series by Nuvista Media on the community-based organisation SHBKG. Layar Liar Malaysia is an online documentary series launched last year in conjunction with the World Wildlife Conservation Day to create and increase awareness of Malaysia’s rich biodiversity through clear and visually striking videos.


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