Saturday, May 09, 2015

RM1.05 mln to complete Kuching Wetlands National Park rehabilitation work

KUCHING: The Forest Department needs at least RM1.05 million to complete rehabilitation work at Kuching Wetlands National Park.

Its assistant director Hamden Mohamad said 50ha of the total area of 400ha had been planted with mangroves since 2012 and the department was looking forward to getting more financial assistance for the project to be completed in 10 years.

“The park requires RM3,000 to cover each hectare. Sometimes, it may go up to RM4,000 per hectare. We estimate the area to become an organised mangrove forest planted by mankind in 10 years,” he said when met at the park, 15km from here at the estuarine reaches of Sibu Laut and Salak rivers.

Hamden said four to five years after the mangrove trees had been planted, animals such as proboscis monkeys, marine organisms and birds were expected to return to the reinstated habitat.

“This area is a sanctuary for wildlife such as proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques, silver-leaf monkeys, monitor lizards and estuarine crocodiles. There are also birds like kingfishers, white-bellied sea eagles and shore birds.”

“The 54 species of fish and prawns, many of which are commercially important, have been catalogued while a lot more species are in the midst of being catalogued.”

He admitted that when the state government launched the first phase of the flood mitigation project years ago, the area and the species therein were adversely affected.

“It used to be forest reserves with lots of animal species particularly proboscis monkeys. But now you don’t see them anymore.”

On funding, Hamden said the department did receive federal allocations through the Mangrove Plantation Programme for coastal areas.

“Even though the programme is for coastal areas, we nevertheless use it for this area too because it is part of the rehabilitation efforts by the state government.

“This park is a wide area. We will carry on rehabilitation work in stages, but we need more funding if we want to speed up the project.”