Friday, 23 January 2015
DISCOVERY OF ILLEGALLY CLEARED LAND IN SUNGAI AIR KUNING (RAMSAR SITE) BERA, PAHANG
The Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention (formally, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat) is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.
Currently, there are more than 2,000 sites that are under the Ramsar Convention throughout the world. The six Ramsar sites in Malaysia are as follows:
i. Bera Lake, Pahang
ii. Tanjung Piai, Johor
iii. The Kukup Island, Johor
iv. Pulai River, Johor
v. Kuching Wetland, Sarawak
vi. Lower Kinabatangan – Segama Wetland, Sabah
Malaysia signed the Ramsar Convention on Protection of Wetlands in 1994 with Bera Lake being nominated as the country’s first Ramsar site. Located in southwest Pahang, Bera Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in Peninsular Malaysia.
Bera Lake is an excellent example of a "blackwater" ecosystem which includes open water, a reed swamp area, and swamp forest with grasslands on the periphery. The site supports high species diversity, including 328 species of algae, 19 aquatic plants, 64 zooplankton, an abundance of aquatic insects, shrimp, crab and 95 species of fish (most indigenous, and including the endangered Asian Bonytongue or Arowana). All amphibians and reptiles of Malaysian tropical swamps are represented as well as 119 bird species, of which two, Masked Finfoot and Crested Fireback, are threatened. Indigenous people inhabit the area and depend on its natural resources, the fishery in particular, for their livelihood. Ecotourism is promoted here while other site uses include conservation education and scientific research.
Background of Program
As this Ramsar site is of utmost importance to the ecosystem of the wetlands, it is crucial that it is protected from any form of exploitation. Frequent observation and surveillance by the Jabatan Perhilitan of Bera has led to discoveries of areas that have been cleared within the Ramsar site. As a counteract to the land clearing, SASET working hand-in-hand with Jabatan Perhilitan and Jabatan Perhutanan of Bera decided to replant the area with native tree species.