Going green in Langkawi

27/10/2007

Jennifer Leong, Leong Li Yim and Kee Thuan Lye are among three HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd staff members that participated with a project aided by Langkawi RainforestAid.org

Each year, HSBC will sponsor few of their employees for Earthwatch volunteer scheme. The mentioned trio was involved with Earthwatch Institute as volunteers last year.

Through each of their sponsorships and guided by their stints abroad, participants needed to conduct a local “community care” project using US$550 (RM1,925)

According to Jennifer Leong, a manager in the HSBC marketing team, decision to plant trees in Langkawi was made right after considering myriad suggestions from the MNS.

For an instance, last month, they ventured into Langkawi together with three colleagues and two MNS staff members. Adding to that, they were accompanied by three guides from Langkawi RainforestAid.org whom had obtained tree saplings prior to that day and had chosen planting site in the north-western part of the island.

Participants of group spent the day planting 50 seedlings along Jalan Datai n including on cleared, open space and idle land in the area. Whilst, another  50 trees were given to Bon Ton Restaurant, Red Tomato Cafe and Casa Del Mar Resort for planting on Pantai Cenang on the western coast of the island.

“trees chosen were those with bearing fruits, thus it can be eaten by the majority of animals within the island, hence benefiting wildlife” said Leong.

Both a Naturalist and a guide, Irshad Mobarak from Langkawi RainforestAid.org believed that by planting trees, it would invite more birds back to developed areas of Pantai Cenang. Trees were wisely chosen comply with the needs of surrounding area. For an instance, Pokok samak (called salam in the mainland) will bear fruits two to three times a year, the Malaysian cherry tree (Muntingia calabura) would bear fruit within a year, while pokok cenderai is a local species.

 “These are trees which will benefit both man and wildlife as they provide shade as well as food. They feed the smallest to the biggest animals, from sunbirds to hornbills, monkeys and squirrels,” said Irshad Mobarak.

The tree-planting, he explained, was part of a bigger scheme to green the island, which would include reforestation of Gunung Raya.

“We have 100 school-kids collecting seedlings and growing them in a nursery. We hope to get 3,000 seedlings by next year for planting.

These trees will provide food and nesting habitat for hornbills and other wildlife,” said
Irshad.

For Leong, the day are well spent considering planting trees under the scorching hot sun was one of her most fulfilling island getaways. “We did not just plant trees for the sake of doing something. The trees we planted will sustain and preserve animals during
their lifetime of 30 to 40 years,” she said.

The HSBC staffs intend to return to Langkawi a year from now to see how the trees have fared. In the meantime, Irshad’s group will be keeping a close watch on the saplings.

By Clarissa Chou, 27 October 2007