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Over 180 Students In Selangor Eagerly Promote Peatland Conservation Amidst Pandemic
School students from schools across three districts in Selangor, namely Kuala Langat, Kuala Selangor and Hulu Selangor did not allow the restrictions during the current Covid-19 pandemic to hamper their efforts to raise awareness on the importance of peatland conservation.
Despite the absence of physical school and co-curricular activities during this time, and amidst challenges pivoting to online schooling from home, more than 180 secondary and primary school students carved out time in their schedule to participate in four, fun, educational and competitive awareness activities under the Interactive Online Learning Session for Peatland Forest Ranger (PFR) programme. The programme was organised by Global Environment Centre (GEC) in collaboration with HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad (HSBC Malaysia), Selangor Forestry Department and the respective district education offices from December 2020 until March 2021.
In his speech at the virtual closing ceremony of this programme on Aug 4, GEC Director Mr Faizal Parish expressed hope that students will be the next generation to work on the conservation and preservation of peat swamp forests.
“You can act as agents of change to preserve the environment and stimulate action by your family, friends and broader public in Malaysia,” he said at the virtual closing ceremony today marking the end of the PFR programme and activities for 2020/2021. The event was hosted in conjunction with the recent World Nature Conservation Day celebrated annually on 28 July to encourage the younger generation and educators to foster love for the environment and to highlight the importance of nature conservation.
He added that through the PFR and Junior PFR programme, students will become a generation that is able to make the right and rational decisions for the future. Faizal highlighted that peatlands are the most important carbon stock on the planet: storing twice as much carbon as the biomass of all the words forests combined.
(Team Titanium from SMK Rantau Panjang, Muhammad Azrul Aiman Md Jajam and Nur Azurin Hadawiah Abdullah receiving their prizes after winning the top spot in the Video Competition. Their video featured creative ways to transform waste plastic containers into flowerpots for peatland plants / Global Environment Centre)
“We, need to protect and restore our peatlands as a nature-based solution to climate change.” He pointed out that Selangor is home to one of Malaysia’s largest remaining peat swamp forests – North Selangor Peat Swamp Forest covering more than 80,000ha. “By working together to protect and restore this forest we can play an important role in controlling climate change”.
The Interactive Online Learning Session for PFR programme was made possible through corporate partnership with HSBC Malaysia and the support of district education offices in the three districts, together with the teachers driving the PFR (for secondary school students) and JPFR (for primary school students) groups. GEC successfully generated heightened and sustained interest in the promotion of peatland conservation among the schools in these districts throughout this time.
Mr Stuart Milne, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Malaysia said “HSBC has long supported the management, protection and restoration of the peatland given the interlocking role it plays in the tropical rainforest ecosystem. It’s inspiring to see the teachers and students so invested. Engaging in activities like these certainly leaves an imprint on the importance of wetlands as the natural solution to tackle climate change problems, and I hope it widens the inter-generational circle of those willing to take action in preserving and protecting the peatland”.
Present to officiate the closing ceremony was HSBC Malaysia’s Country Head of Corporate Sustainability, Ms Devika Rajamanickam. Since the PFR programme was launched in 2011, more than 1,000 young students have been involved in various environmental activities and projects.
Meanwhile, Kuala Selangor District Education Department’s Assistant District Officer (Student Talent Development), Mr Mohd Fathudin Mohd Aladin expressed his gratitude that the initiative has immensely benefitted students in Kuala Selangor and other districts.
“It has helped increased their performance level and enable them to excel especially in the area of their co-curricular activities (community service) assessment during this time. The education district offices welcome such ongoing cooperation and support offered in driving these programmes”. He expressed hope that the programme will continue in coming years.
The first activity in the programme was an interactive online learning session series on peatland forests from December to January, which attracted 154 participants from three schools. At the end of the series, 18-year old Nuralhirah Syahirah Suhaili of Kolej Vokasional Kuala Selangor won the top spot in the online quiz.
Meanwhile, the poster competition on theme of ‘Peatland Biodiversity and Climate Change’ saw 30 entries from primary and secondary and school students including schools for Orang Asli communities in the districts. Eighteen-year old Aisyah Nadhirah Mazlan of SMK Rantau Panjang and Zara Zulaika Anak Rosi, aged 7 of SK (Asli) Bukit Cheeding secured the top spots in the competition for the secondary and primary school categories respectively. Aishah’s poster captured the essence of peatland and biodiversity conservation, while Zara Zulaikha’s masterpiece zoomed in on a picturesque scenery of healthy peat swamp forest.
(Zara Zulaika Anak Rosi from SK (A) Bukit Cheding, won the Poster Competition for Junior Peatland Forest Ranger for her take on a picturesque scenery of healthy peat swamp forest.)
In the video competition, Team Titanium made an impression on the judges with their video showcasing some creative ideas of transforming waste plastic containers into flowerpots that can be planted with some peatland plants. The duo, Muhammad Azrul Aiman Md Jajam (14) and Nur Azurn Hadawiah Abdullah (15) of SMK Rantau Panjang successfully clinched the champion trophy.
For the essay competition on the theme ‘Voice of Future: Peatlands and Humans’, SMK Raja Muda Musa’s Mah Zhi Jing (16)’s essay highlighting how local communities can help increase awareness and knowledge on the sustainable management of Raja Musa Forest Reserve won the judges’ hearts and earned her the top spot in the competition. Each top prize winner took home a cash prize of RM200, a trophy and certificate.
The virtual online ceremony was attended by 60 students and teachers from across the three districts.
For more information on GEC’s conservation and sustainable peatland forest management initiatives in Selangor and other related projects, check out https://www.gec.org.my/index.cfm?&menuid=335.