GEORGE TOWN, Feb 16 ― Mangrove trees that had to make way for Seri Tanjung Pinang II land reclamation project have been replanted in southern Seberang Perai, said state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh.
The state welfare, caring society and environment committee chairman said the developer reclaiming the land had already obtained approval from the Department of Environment (DOE).
“The mangrove trees have already been replanted in Sungai Acheh,” he said in a statement issued today.
Phee was responding to criticisms by Penang Consumers' Association (CAP) over the imminent destruction of the mangrove forests off the coast of Bagan Jermal to make way for development.
He said the developer was required to comply with all regulations and obtain approval from DOE before replanting the mangrove trees.
“The mangrove trees were replanted at an appropriate habitat based on recommendations from the DOE,” he said.
Yesterday, using an article quoting Phee published by Berita Harian, CAP accused Phee of saying the 9.38 ha of mangrove forest had to be cleared to generate income for the state.
“The remaining mangrove forests in Bagan Jermal and rest of the state are valuable natural treasures in case the Environment exco wants to compare it with development projects proposed by the Penang government,” CAP's president SM Mohamed Idris said in a statement yesterday.
Phee denied that he had said the clearing of the mangroves at Bagan Jermal was to generate income.
“The mangrove forests have to be relocated and replanted elsewhere as it is located at the reclamation site of Seri Tanjung Pinang II project,” he added.
In his statement, Mohamed Idris claimed that the value of Malaysian mangroves just for storm protection and flood control has been estimated at USD 300,000 per km of coastline, which is based on the cost of replacing the mangroves with rock walls.
“Mangrove forests in this area not only protect the coastal areas from natural hazards such as storms, tidal waves and tsunami but mangroves are also a breeding ground for marine life that are source of income for the fisher communities and their future generation and also food supply for the people,” the activist pointed out.
He expressed his disappointed with Phee for not understanding the holistic functions of mangroves and how it benefits the environment and economy.
“YB Phee should check out what has happened to the environment, fish stock and livelihood of coastal fishers in Balik Pulau and Seberang Perai Selatan as a result of mangrove destruction in these areas,” he suggested.
He also expressed his strong objections against the reclamation projects in the state while demanding that the state cancel all development projects involving mangrove forests.
He also suggested that large-scale mangrove replanting projects be implemented in suitable areas to regenerate and conserve the trees.