International Conference on Ecology and Biodiversity Across Time and Space (ICEBATS) 2018
By: Academician Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor FASc
ASM Fellow Academician Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor FASc was invited to deliver a keynote address at the International Conference on Ecology and Biodiversity Across Space and Time (ICEBATS) 2018.
The conference was held at the School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia from 15 to 16 August 2018. Some 60 participants with a number of foreign participants from Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines were present alongside local participants.
After a welcoming speech by Professor Dr Wan Maznah, the conference was officially opened by Professor Dr Amirul Al-Ashraf Abdullah, Dean of the School of Biological Sciences. Both warmly welcomed everyone present, especially to the participants from overseas and hoped that they would have time to enjoy “The Pearl of The Orient” as well.
The welcome address and opening speech were followed by Tan Sri Salleh’s keynote address titled “Conservation of Natural Resources: Issue and Challenges”. In his paper, he addressed four fundamental problems faced by the world, viz. population growth, climate Change, loss of biodiversity and desertification. Even though Malaysia is not afflicted with desertification per se, he said that many countries in Asia and Africa are facing the dangers of expanding deserts. He stressed that climate change, loss of biodiversity and population growth are serious issues that need to be addressed at the global and national levels.
The second keynote address was delivered by Professor Dr Masahisa Nakamura from the Research Centre for Sustainability and Environment, International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC) and Shiba University Japan. Professor Nakamura discussed “Integrated Lake Management (ILBM) and the Ecosystem Service Framework”, with a focus on bay coastal basin. He discussed some conceptual approaches to Lake Basin Management, taking the case of the Lake Biwa-Yodo River- Osaka Coastal Basin as an example.
Professor Dr Nor Azazi Zakaria, the Director of USM River Engineering and Urban Drainage Research Centre (REDAC), presented the first paper titled “Managing Water Resources for Future Resilience and Sustainability of Urban Ecosystem” where he discussed water management issues. He stated that climate change can have a devastating impact on droughts and floods. More than 750 million people lack access to safe drinking water, especially in urban areas. He further discussed the Sustainable Urban Storm Water System (SUDS), which he believes can provide solutions to managing storm water in urban areas.
Associate Professor Dr Teh Su Yean from the School of Mathematical Sciences discussed a paper titled “Mathematical Modelling for Sustainable Management of Environment and Ecology”. She suggested that mathematical modelling is an essential and convenient tool for gaining insights into a problem and for finding possible solutions. She further discussed previous modelling exercises that has been used.
Dr Luki Subehi from the Research Center for Limnology (RCL) of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) presented a paper titled “Natural Resources Conservation and Management at Tropical Inland Water”. He refers to large bodies of inland lakes in Indonesia and Malaysia that serve as hydro power sources as well as an important fishery resources. He cautioned on the negative impacts of cage culture in the lakes with alien fishes as is currently practised.
Dr Nadine Ruppert from the School of Biological Sciences USM discussed an interesting paper titled “Of Men and Orangs – How the Evil Quartet Drives Orang Utan Extinction”. She refers to the “Anthropocene” epoch which has become synonymous with human impact that have significantly changed the growth of biodiversity. Humans affect loss of biodiversity some 100 to 1000 times greater than normal natural biodiversity loss. She refers to the four “Evil Quartet” of habitat destruction, overkill, introduced species and secondary extinction. She projected that human-wildlife conflicts may result in the extinction of the apes.
There were two series of concurrent sessions on the afternoon of the first day and morning of the second day where a total of 29 papers on a range of topics were presented mainly by graduate students from USM and some international presenters as well.
There were also a few posters being displayed on the morning of the second day.
Meet the Experts Session
This session was held at 11.30am on the second day. It was moderated by Dr Pasupuleti Visweswara Rao, Director of the Institute of Food Security of University Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) representing the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) Young Scientists Network Malaysia. Members of the panel included Tan Sri Salleh, Professor Sharul Anuar Mohd Shah, Associate Professor Dr Sreeramanan Subramaniam and Associate Professor Dr Nik Fadzly N. Rosely. The panel discussed a range of topics from climate change to tissue culture, to drones and the importance of networking and sharing knowledge and information.
Final Series of Oral Presentations
The final series of oral presentations covered a variety of topics ranging from invasive species to aquatic resource conservation, to allelochemical compounds of mangrove species and meeting new people from USM, other parts of Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. The health report of the Laguna Bay in the Philippines was particularly interesting.
The Closing ceremony
The closing ceremony was officiated by by Professor Dr Wan Maznah, Chairperson of ICEBATS 2018 followed by a speech by the host of the upcoming ICEBATS 2019, Dr Fauzan Ali from Indonesia. This was followed by award presentations for Best Scientist Award, best oral presentation and best poster presentation.
Besides the opportunity to share his views, participation in panel discussions and other presentations, Tan Sri Salleh enjoyed the opportunity to meet both senior scientists and researchers as well as young graduate students who were keen to meet senior and retired scientists such as himself. Sharing of knowledge is extremely important and Tan Sri Salleh hopes to be able to motivate younger scientists that a career in science and research can indeed be rewarding. He said that the “hallway” discussions and discussions over lunch and tea in an informal and relaxed atmosphere are always useful.
Tan Sri Salleh applauded this conference, saying that it has been an interesting experience that covered a variety of topics. As a forester, he stated that the discussions on water and water bodies made him realise the importance of such ecosystems and the need for integrated watershed management. The range of topics discussed was wide-ranging, and he learnt new things and reignited his interest in conservation. He expressed his sincere gratitude to the USM School of Biological Sciences for the organisation of the conference.
Academician Tan Sri Salleh would like to acknowledge the support of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia for his travel arrangements, the Malaysian Scientific Association and KISM for the financial support, and Professor Wan Maznah as well as the USM School of Biological Sciences for organising the conference.