Restoring the pristine beauty of Tioman Island
Amomentous effort to restore the pristine beauty and natural heritage of Tioman Island was recently undertaken by Berjaya Hotels & Resorts (BHR), accomplished by a total of 60 divers and over 100 other participants including staff, media, youth volunteers and children from Sekolah Kebangsaan Tekek, Tioman.
As an island rich in marine life, Tioman Island nestles above the waters of the South China Sea and is renowned as one of the premier resorts under the hospitality arm of the public-listed Malaysian conglomerate Berjaya Corporation.
Supported by various partners – Malaysian Nature Society, Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia, Scuba People, Sakinah Divers, Berjaya Youth and Berjaya Cares Foundation, the three-day Tioman Island Clean-up Day (TICD) scheduled from Oct 25 to 27 vows to strengthen conservation of Tioman Island (marine and forest) and educate people on the importance of coral reefs, marine life and forest to the ecosystems.
Apart from exercising its role as a socially responsible corporate citizen, the resort along with divers and non-divers experienced an extraordinary journey of creating a kinship with Mother Nature.
Group Director, Corporate Marketing & Communications – Berjaya Hotels & Resorts Abel Nelson Nang enthusiastically said, “This year’s TICD is organised as the Malaysian community celebrates the Malaysian Environment Week which falls from Oct 21 to 27. It addresses the issues of global warming while encouraging smart partnerships in environmental conservation programmes and challenging the Malaysian public to be more environmentally responsible.
“In line and in support of realising these goals, the observance of TICD by Berjaya Hotels & Resorts allows us to highlight the impact of oceans on our surroundings and the various ways in which oceans contribute to our bottom line.
“Celebrating this CSR weekend provides us with an opportunity to highlight the considerable challenges we face in dealing with marine pollution, maintaining the oceans’ capacity to regulate the global climate, supply essential ecosystem services and provide sustainable livelihoods and safe recreations for our guests and surrounding community.”
Tioman Island Clean-Up Day 2013 by BHR is a four-pronged CSR effort comprising a Dive Clean-up by 60 divers (from Scuba People and Sakinah Divers) to remove as much sea debris and Crown of Thorns from the sea beds; the Beach Clean-up by the media and volunteers from Berjaya Youth; the launch of BERJAYA-MNS Project ROOTs (Revisiting Our Original Trees); and last but not least – Turtle Conservation Workshop for Children by Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia.
One of the main highlights of TICD 2013 – the launch of BERJAYA-MNS Project ROOTs (Revisiting Our Original Trees) was jointly graced by Leong Wy Joon, Executive Director, Berjaya Land Berhad and Mohamed Shah Redza Hussein, Executive Director, Malaysian Nature Society. Leong also presented a grant of RM206,000 on behalf of Berjaya Cares Foundation to Mohamed Shah Reza to fund Project ROOTs.
“Coral reefs are the rainforest of the sea and home for various living creatures, which is vital to the marine ecosystem.” Leong said.
“In June 2012, Berjaya Cares Foundation in collaboration with Malaysian Nature Society embarked on a 15-month coral reefs conservation project by using a scientifically proven method – the Biorock technology which has shown positive effect on coral restoration.
“Based on the results gathered from constant monitoring and evaluation at the site, the corals are growing three to four times faster compared with natural reefs.
“Working in collaboration with Malaysian Nature Society through Berjaya Cares Foundation, Berjaya embarked on another environmental project namely Revisiting Our Original Trees (“ROOTs”). Project ROOTS is a terrestrial project studying the gaps of research areas and high conservation value areas on Tioman Island.
“This project aims to promote conservation and sustainable nature tourism by highlighting unique natural flora and fauna to inspire awareness preservation of Tioman’s natural assets,” said Leong.
He added that the marine and land ecosystem of an island are equally important. The preservation and conservation efforts for both should be treated as one module.
He said, “We’re pleased that Project ROAR is progressing well and has shown great results in enhancing the growth rate of coral reefs.
“This year, we are pleased to support another meaningful project by Malaysian Nature Society which aims to promote conservation and preservation of Tioman’s forest. We hope our contribution will create a wider awareness on Tioman’s unique island forest amongst the public.”
Mohamed Shah Redza Hussein said, “MNS is once again proud to embark on another project in collaboration with Berjaya Cares Foundation to ensure that Tioman’s natural wilderness and beauty remains protected. Project ROOTs showcases the terrestrial landscape of Tioman and part of its outreach includes empowering the local communities in the hope that they become environmental stewards of this beautiful island.
“Rakan Napuh is a community engagement programme set up to encourage local community involvement in protecting the wildlife and natural heritage of Tioman.
“Napuh or the ‘Greater Mousedeer’ was especially chosen as the icon because it is native to the island and unfortunately at present, currently being hunted unsustainably.”
In conjunction with TICD 2013, Berjaya Youth organised an Instagram Eco Competition for youth aged between 18 and 38 years old.
Four contest winners and their partner were invited to participate at the Tioman Island Clean-Up Day and learn more about the importance of environment conservation and preservation.
Berjaya Youth is a platform specifically created by Berjaya Corporation Berhad for the youth community of Malaysia with the objective of cultivating leadership, creativity and proactivity while promoting the spirit of volunteerism, positive thinking and good values through various projects and activities.
Nelson Nang remarked that it was especially heartening being able to reach out to 50 school children aged 10 and 12 from Sekolah Kebangsaaan Tekek.
“For many years now, through Berjaya Hotels & Resorts’ Loving Earth commitment we have been promoting environmental sustainability through our underwater and beach clean-up; as well as Turtle Conservation Awareness Programme for children.
“The inclusion of the local school in the programme today reflects BHR’s main CSR focus on helping the community in which we operate, and is clearly communicated through our new corporate value – LIVE & CARE: Care for the Planet and Care for the People.
“It’s really only through this process of education that we are able to change their philosophy and nurture a spirit of loving the earth. Children are the next generation and are really the ambassadors of change,” added Nelson Nang.
Conducted by Chen Pelf Nyok from the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia and co-facilitated by the media, the Turtle Conservation Workshop by the beach aimed at fostering awareness on protecting turtles through interactive and fun-filled learning activities.
The children were briefed on the characteristics of different turtle species and the dangers facing them, causing their extinction. The children then participated in group dynamic activities incorporating threats-to-turtles story narration and games.
Only a small amount of 22 reef-destroying Crown of Thorns (COT) were removed during the dive clean-up, covering islands with diving sites where coral beds are abundant and others – identified as the most productive areas of coral reefs breeding ground. These islands are Renggis, Labas, Soyak and Malang Rocks.
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Tioman Island nestles above the waters of the South China Sea.