Spark-ing Action Through Watershed Health Protection

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6 May 2019, Kuala Lumpur – SPARK Foundation strengthens its commitment towards protecting water resources through its recent reforestation effort to preserve the peat swamp forest reserve in Raja Musa in Batang Berjuntai, Selangor.

As part of SPARK Foundation’s 2nd year Water Stewardship Agenda 2018-2020, the Foundation will be supporting the Global Environment Centre (GEC) in its work with the Selangor Forestry Department. This will involve two high-impact initiatives at the Raja Musa Forest Reserve: to reforest one hectare of degraded peatland; and to construct a 300-meter clay dyke. These measures are expected to help store up to 200 million litres of water annually.

Dato’ Haji Dr. Mohd Puat B. Dahalan, the Director of the Selangor State Forestry Department, was on-site to share the importance of preserving peat swamp forests. He said, “The Raja Musa peat swamp forest functions as a water storage and supply for the surrounding communities, in addition to biodiversity conservation area and source of livelihood for communities living nearby. At its optimal condition, the peat swamp forest retains heavy rainfall and gradually releases water during the dry season. However, the function is lost when the land is degraded due to weather conditions and forest fire. Protection and rehabilitation of peatland will sustain our water supply in the long run, besides functioning as an efficient carbon storage to regulate earth temperature. Reforesting one hectare of peatland offsets 2,000 tonnes of soil carbon, which is equivalent to the annual emissions from 1,400 cars.

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“By understanding the state of our environment and the current realities we are facing, the initiatives by SPARK Foundation and the GEC in protecting, rehabilitating and conserving the Raja Musa Forest Reserve are truly commendable. SPARK Foundation’s effort is a significant step that demonstrates their commitment in protecting our water source and reducing carbon emissions. I urge that more corporates embark on similar high-impact projects to help us build a greener and more sustainable tomorrow.”

Renuka Indrarajah, Trustee of SPARK Foundation said, “We have made conscious efforts to manage our environmental performance through our river rehabilitation and alternative water supply solution programmes across the country since 2007. To that end, we have committed RM11million till 2020 to protect our water resources through a more holistic approach in improving watershed health. Enabled through strategic collaborations and high-impact projects, our projects will be beneficial for the surrounding communities and the planet in the long run. There is an urgent need for all stakeholders to step-up efforts in protecting our water resources to ensure availability and accessibility of clean water, in line with the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

During the tree-planting programme, SPARK Foundation also introduced the proposed clay dyke that will be constructed in the Raja Musa Forest Reserve in the 3rd quarter of 2019. Clay dyke is an innovative method to reduce surface and subsurface water seepages that will support water retention and rehabilitation efforts.

Mr Faizal Parish, Director of the Global Environment Centre and the Board Member of the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) stated: “A clay dyke is one of the best methods to prevent over-drainage and degradation of peatland forest. The site for the proposed clay dyke contributes a significant amount of water for the Sungai Selangor Water Supply Scheme that provides water for more than 60% of Klang Valley users. Restoration of the peatland will help maintain the long-term water supply function and reduce the risk of water shortages in Klang Valley during extreme weather conditions. Additionally, the dyke’s natural ability to re-wet the peat reduces risk of peatland fires and enhance the conservation of biodiversity in Raja Musa.”

Faizal further emphasised, “Corporates must take more seriously the recent warning by the United Nations-linked International Resource Panel (IRP) that up to 50% of the global population will live in water stressed areas by 2030, if current levels of water consumption and pollution growth rate continues. They must start managing their environmental performance through high-impact projects like the SPARK Foundation Water Stewardship Agenda. 2030 is only 11 years away and urgent action is needed to address and prevent these impacts.”

Also present at SPARK Foundation’s recent reforestation project were Roland Bala, Managing Director, Principal Funder of SPARK Foundation and 54 volunteers.

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