“SEMINAR KELESTARIAN ALAM: MENGHARGAI WARISAN TANAH LEMBAB (WETLANDS) 12-13 OKTOBER 2015”. (Appreciation of the wetlands seminar)
KEJORA (South East Johor Development Authority) together with Wetlands International Malaysia co-organised this seminar. The purpose of it was to introduce Kampung Linting Eco-tourism programme to various Government agencies in Johor state and neighboring community in order to instill in them an interest in the programme and also to gain their co-operation so that the eco-tourism activities in Kampung Linting can be better implemented and promoted which will contribute to its success.
On the first day before the seminar, the government officials were taken to Kpg Linting to expose them to the beauty of nature in and around Linting Wetlands as well as to experience the local lifestyle. Around 50 participants were taken by boat along Sungai Belungkor to Kampung Linting. Along the way the officials were in awe of Sungai Belungkor and the mangrove vegetation on both sides of the river. When they arrived at the island they were taken to one of the Kampung folks house to learn about popular traditional game among the locals called ‘Jong Racing’ (Miniature boat racing). Pak Lazim gave a talk on this and also spoke about how the Jong is made. Pak Dollah demonstrated the process of making a Jong. The wood from the Pulai tree which is used to build a Jong is harvested from the nearby forest. This wood is preferred because of its durability. It is not an easy task but precision in measurements and the boat structure is needed in order for it to perform well during a race. The boats are fitted with masts which taps the force of the wind to propel the boats forward. No remote control is required!
Later we had breakfast prepared by the locals before we proceeded to the next event and that was rubber tapping. En Mizi from Kejora explained to the participants about the history of rubber trees and the value to the locals livelihood. The participants were given an opportunity to learn how to tap rubber.
The participants were served a scrumptious lunch consisting of local delicacies, prepared by the local villagers of Kg Linting. Most of the seafood used in the cooking was fresh products from Sg Belungkor. One of the unique dishes served was a type of mollusc known locally as Siput gong-gong.
The final activity for the day was mangrove replanting program. The saplings of the mangrove trees was prepared by the locals and transported to the mangrove replanting site from the nursery. The participants were first briefed by a representative from Wetlands International on the mangroves and the role they play and the importance to the local livelihood, eg. They act as nursery grounds for fishes and prawns, protection against strong waves and winds and provide food to the local community. Later the participants were taken to the mangrove replanting sites to try their hand at mangrove replanting. About 200 mangrove seedlings from the species Rhizophora sp. were planted. The participants had fun getting all muddy and planting the mangrove seedlings.
On the second day during the Wetlands Appreciation Seminar, there were four presentations made. The seminar was held as knowledge sharing platform of local community ecotourism program and the role of mangrove in their livelihood. About 100 participants took part in the Seminar including the participants that joined the tour to Kampung Linting Wetlands the day before. The seminar was officiated by the General Manager of KEJORA, En. Norazman bin Othman. The objectives of the seminar were to inform the government agencies in Johor and community under KEJORA about the community ecotourism works in Kampung Linting, to share the knowledge on ecotourism prospects, and thirdly to enlighten the importance of mangrove in local community and ecotourism program. The second presentation was given by madam Lee Shin Shin from SGP-UNDP program on the involvement of SGP in community work. The presentation showcased the projects SGP had funded before and how the projects had impacted the local communities. Apart of that, madam Lee Shin Shin briefed the audience on the involvement of SGP funded project with the local community under KEJORA; the projects in Sedili Kechil and Kampung Linting. The next presentatation was given by Dr Wan Faridah on the topic Importance of firefly as part of biodiversity and ecotourism. The interesting talk had given the participants a better understanding on the habitat, behavior and the relationship of firefly to the natural mangrove ecosystem and human impact. The message that the audience can mostly related to was that fireflies are good indicators of the health of a wetland especially mangrove ecosystem thus the disappearance of fireflies is an alarm signal from nature that we should all wake up to and do something about it! The third talk was given by Pengurus of Taman Negara Johor Tanjung Piai (PTNJTP), Khalid bin Zahrom on the ecotourism and education program at the RAMSAR site, Tanjung Piai. Encik Zahrom stressed the importance of awareness program in promoting nature and ecotourism activities there. The last talk was given by representative from Wetlands International, Ms Hanna Hazirah binti Awaluddin on the importance of mangrove to the local community livelihood, especially in relations to Linting Wetlands. Ms Hanna also spoke about the role of mangrove ecosystem and the link between humans and mangroves.
The event had successfully introduced Kampung Linting to the local government authorities as well neighboring communities. The presentation slots had enlightened the participants on the various components of the mangrove ecosystem and how human activities affect this fragile ecosystem. The two day program received positive feedback, especially the mangrove replanting activity and there were requests for more from the participants and they hoped that more such awareness programmes would be held in future.