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MERBOK, KEDAH, 26 January 2024 - Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) through the School of Educational Studies (PPIP) recently spearheaded a mangrove planting session in Merbok, Kedah.

The event saw the planting of 300 mangrove seedlings, symbolising a collective commitment to environmental sustainability and global collaboration.

This project involving two Regional Centres of Expertise (RCE), one in Penang under the USM Centre for Global Sustainability Studies (CGSS), and RCE Tongyeong from South Korea, together with Kelab Puncak, aimed not only to create an impact in environmental conservation but also to foster international cooperation and youth empowerment.

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Held under the umbrella of the "Bridge to the World" (BTW) programme by RCE Tongyeong, now in its 15th edition, students from Tongyeong High School in South Korea participated in this hands-on initiative.

A diverse group of participants gathered for these noteworthy endeavours. The ‘Blue Earth' team represents RCE Tongyeong under the BTW programme. The participants included Woo-jin Lee, the Assistant Programmer Designer, Team of Education Sector of RCE Tongyeong, along with a group of students: Cha Junwoo (Tongyeong High School), Kang Sandeul (Dongwon High School), Kim Nayoung (Chungryol Girls' High School), and Kim Guk-Rok (Tongyeong High School), all of whom brought an international flair to the initiative.

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The site of the planting session is Sungai Merbok Mangrove Forest. It comprises of 18 compartments with a total area of 4176 hectares, supervised by the Kedah Forestry Department. Recognized for its rich biodiversity, the forest is home to 80 bird species, primates, reptiles, mammals, and various aquatic species, including critically-endangered mangrove species.

Representing Universiti Sains Malaysia were Associate Professor Dr. Rabiatul-Adawiah Binti Ahmad Rashid, Associate Professor Dr. Aswati Binti Hamzah, Associate Professor Dr. Shahabuddin Bin Hashim, Wan Mazlina Binti Wan Mehammud, all from PPIP; and Wan Sharipahmira Mohd Zain and Associate Professor Dr. Japareng Lalung from the USM School of Industrial Technology, who is also the Coordinator of RCE Penang. From Kelab Puncak, Mr. Mohamad Ridwan bin Ishak (Pak Su) led a group of 10 other students.

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This endeavour, funded by the Japan-Malaysian Association (JMA), underscores the importance of community engagement and education in fostering environmental stewardship.

The mangrove planting session not only left a lasting impact on the ecosystem of Sungai Merbok but also fostered cross-cultural connections among the participants and a shared commitment to environmental stewardship. As these young minds intertwine their roots with the mangroves, they symbolise the growth of a global community dedicated to preserving the natural wonders that connect us all.

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Special thanks to the Kedah State Fire and Rescue Department for their invaluable assistance in ensuring the safety of all participants during the mangrove planting initiative in Merbok, Kedah. Their presence has made this collaborative environmental effort a secure and enriching experience for everyone involved.

Text & Photo: PPIP & RCE/Editing: Mazlan Hanafi Basharudin

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