WWF-Msia lauds Rajang-Belawai-Paloh mangrove restoration work in Sarawak

The Rajang-Belawai-Paloh area is home to the largest mangrove complex in Sarawak, rich in biodiversity but highly sensitive to unsustainable activities. Photo credit: Mazidi Abd Ghani / WWF-Malaysia

By DayakDaily Team

KUCHING, June 4: In conjunction with World Environment Day tomorrow (June 5), World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) has commended the mangrove restoration work in the Rajang-Belawai-Paloh area of Sarawak.

WWF-Malaysia mangrove and dolphin conservation senior officer Vivien Yeo said mangroves act as nurseries and feeding grounds for fishes, crabs, and prawns, supporting the local fisheries and livelihoods.

We need healthy mangroves for humans and nature to thrive. Photo credit: Mazidi Abd Ghani / WWF-Malaysia

Additionally, she said mangroves provide firewood used in the production of ‘sesar udang’ (smoked prawn), protect the coastal areas from storm surges and erosion, while helping combat climate change by serving as carbon sinks.

Despite mangroves’ resilience and remarkable capacity for self-regeneration—bouncing back even after minor disturbances, Yeo pointed out that there are instances where natural regeneration is impeded by degradation or destruction of the habitat.

In such cases, active replanting efforts become essential to restore the mangrove ecosystem.

WWF-Malaysia programme officer for mangrove and dolphin conservation Vivien Yeo.

“An important key to success is for WWF to work in close collaboration with the government of Sarawak.

“Together with Forest Department Sarawak (FDS), local planning authorities and other government agencies, dedicated communities in Rajang-Belawai-Paloh are leading the restoration work in degraded mangrove areas nearby.

“Their aim is to preserve ecosystems vital for their livelihoods and biodiversity,” she said in a statement issued yesterday (June 3).

She further explained that mangrove restoration is far from a walk in the park as it involves trudging through mud under the relentless sun, enduring insect bites, and facing the risk of encounters with crocodiles. Yet, the challenges don’t end with replanting.

“Continuous care, monitoring, and maintenance are imperative as threats like crabs and goats feeding on mangrove shoots can hinder growth.

“The tireless efforts of these local communities in the restoration endeavour are truly commendable as they strive to enrich the lives of both individuals and the environment,” she added.

The Rajang-Belawai-Paloh area is where three rivers meet—the Paloh River to the north, the Rajang River to the south, and Belawai River in between.

It is a special place with vast mangrove forests that are teeming with life, from fish to marine mammals like Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) and finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides).

It is also home to primates such as proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) and silver leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus cristatus), and an array of bird species, including lesser adjutant storks (Leptoptilos javanicus).

The mudflats created by the mangroves provide crucial feeding and roosting sites for migratory birds that travel from the northern hemisphere during the winter months. These birds find abundant food and a safe environment here before continuing their journey southward or back north. — DayakDaily