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Trees for Nature - The Langkawi Initiative

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There is an increasing emphasis on the eco tourism potential of Malaysia’s Langkawi Island. We recognize this, but the island is at watershed, it is in danger of losing the very attractions the eco tourists come for, the rainforest, the limestone forest, the mangrove forest and all its wildlife. We need to take immediate steps to safe guard this valuable natural capital writes Tour Operator and Conservationist, Irshad Mobarak.

The Langkawi Initiative is a proposal to protect, restore and reconnect our remaining wildlands which is already fragmented. Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

Fragmentation
Langkawi is experiencing an unprecedented level of habitat loss and fragmentation. Development is encroaching into wild areas, roads and other developments are cutting through and dividing once pristine habitats. Animals can no longer move safely from one part of their habitat to another for their feeding, breeding and territorial requirements. This enforcement to remain within their small isolated habitats may result in in-breeding and eventually decreasing the viability of the species gene pool, causing extinction.

Invasive Species
The introduction of non native flora and fauna has also resulted in the displacement and loss of native species. Feral dogs do a lot of damage when they prey on native wildlife like mouse deer and ground nesting birds. Likewise introduced plants through their aggressive colonization out-compete native vegetation for limited space.Pollution
With increasing development, population and tourism on the island we are also seeing a reciprocal increase in pollution levels especially water pollution.

Overhavesting
Illegal encroachment into protected areas, illegal poaching and unsustainable agricultural and fishing practices are also playing apart in the loss of our biodiversity.

The Initiative
The Langkawi Initiative seeks through responsible management to protect and restore the natural heritage of the island through a holistic approach.1 To stem the disappearance of wildlife and wilderness we must allow the recovery, of whole ecosystems and landscapes in every region of the island. We must identify important ecological areas and create buffer zones around them and reforest them with comparable native species. We seek to establishment a connected system of wildlife corridors between large ecological zones that will allow wildlife to travel between once isolated fragments of wildlands.

2 We will also encourage the active participation of stakeholders including local government bodies, hotels, business establishments, and interested individuals in reforestation and landscaping for wildlife with food plants to attract birds and other wildlife on private and public areas on the island.

3 We seek the removal of invasive species of flora and the humane management of feral animals.

4 We will initiate and support programs for better and sustainable eco-agriculture.

Recovery on this scale will take some time. We acknowledge that the health of our society as well as its ecotourism economy depends on its wilderness.

It is time to allow nature to thrive once more and to restore the links that will sustain both wildness and the foundations of human communities, otherwise we will not have any basis of an ecotourism business or in fact any reason for tourist of any kind visiting our once beautiful and healthy islands.

4th July 2014