In conjunction with the International Day of the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, the Mahathir Science Award Foundation (MSAF) and the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) jointly organised a webinar themed ‘People and Mangroves’ on 28 July 2020. The webinar provided an overview of the latest scientific findings and conservation efforts of mangroves. Three representatives from local communities who directly depend on mangroves for their livelihoods also shared their precious and colourful experiences.
With Dr Ahmad Aldrie Amir, also known as Malaysia’s “Mangrove Man” moderating, the event began with a talk by Associate Professor Dr Daniel Friess on the science of mangroves. His presentation assessed the broad state of the world’s mangroves as well as gave focus to the mangroves of Southeast Asia. Dr Friess’ talk was met with a lively Q&A session with participants enthusiastically submitting questions to the moderator.
The next talk was given by Dr Rahimatsah Amat FASc. He gave a unique Malaysian perspective to mangrove conservation and the importance of mangroves in the region. Once again, his talk was also followed by an enlightening Q&A session, in which Dr Rahimatsah also took the initiative to answer additional questions in the chat.
After the talks by the two academics, the session on ‘Livelihoods from Mangroves’ began with a discussion with Mr Sabri and Mr Abu representing the fishermen community and the Langkawi Development authority. Mr Abu has been a fisherman for 42 years and shared his experience with mangroves in his region through the eyes of a fisherman. This was followed by a discussion with Ms Siti Hajar, a representative of PIFWANITA (the women’s division of the Penang Inshore Fishermen’s Welfare Association, or PIFWA). She explained the different products PIFWANITA makes from mangrove leaves and produce. She also showed viewers the leaves used to make ‘teh jeruju’, a tea made from sea holly. Last but not least, Mr Masbudi from Inspirasi Kawa shared his experience within an organisation that supports mangrove conservation through tourism. He showed how tourists were interested in integrating conservation activities into their tourist experience.
To conclude, Academician Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor FASc gave some closing remarks reminding the audience of the importance of mangroves. Dr Ahmad Aldrie Amir then wrapped up the event by highlighting important points made by all the speakers and thanked the participants.
With an audience of 239 registrants coming from 31 countries (Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Sierra Leone, UK, USA, and Venezuela to name a few), the webinar truly attracted a global crowd. From the feedback obtained, it was evident that participants enjoyed the webinar and the unique perspective that it provided on the local communities in Malaysia. The success of the webinar and its promotion has also led to increased interest in the work of MSAF and ASM and raised awareness of the upcoming TropSc 2021 conference.
Prepared by Aliya Binti Ahmad Nabil