In a significant milestone in association with World Wetlands Day 2024, Leader Energy Holding Berhad (Leader Energy) and Global Environment Centre (GEC) officially inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for a 5-year mangrove conservation and rehabilitation project for a climate resilience community in Kuala Muda District, Kedah, Malaysia.

This collaborative endeavour between Leader Energy and GEC marks a momentous initiative aiming to address critical challenges faced by mangroves. The project seeks to implement conservation and restoration efforts in Kuala Muda, actively engaging coastal communities and stakeholders in mangrove protection and management. It also provides hands-on experience to Leader Energy’s employees and volunteers in conserving and rehabilitating the mangrove ecosystem, highlighting the pivotal role of corporate and community involvement in promoting volunteerism and conservation.

The program will foster collaboration with residents of Kuala Muda district, Sahabat Hutan Bakau Kampung Taman Nilam, local government authorities, and schools/universities to achieve its goals.

Mr. Faizal Parish, GEC Director, emphasized: “the project’s objective is to rehabilitate and sustainably manage the mangroves in Kuala Muda District, Kedah. Baseline assessments have been initiated to guide the selection of suitable project areas and identify communities to be involved. The project will focus on protection of remaining mangroves as well as tree planting and maintenance in degraded portions, to contribute to sustainable development in the area.

Faizal further explained that: “the project will employ an ecosystem-based approach, ensuring the selection of appropriate tree species for rehabilitation. The community empowerment approach will build capacity and ownership, supporting local livelihoods. Engaging multiple stakeholders including local communities, government agencies, and landowners will improve effectiveness and assist to scale up and enhance the program in the future.

The program will raise awareness and educate stakeholders on the functions and values of mangrove ecosystems, strengthening the links between mangrove conservation and local livelihoods. It aligns with Leader Energy’s Sustainability-Environment Strategy and will contribute to the Greening Malaysia Programme through the National 100 Million Tree Planting Campaign, National Mangrove Restoration Programme, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), district and state initiatives, contributing to a better understanding of community-based mangrove conservation.

Ir. Gan Boon Hean, Group Chief Executive Officer of Leader Energy Holding Berhad, added that “Leader Energy’s transformative initiative, supported with a grant of RM 1.9 million as well as volunteer inputs, aligns with its goals, employing a multifaceted approach. The project aims to establish and empower a local community group as the guardian of the mangroves. This will support inspiring peer learning visits, establish community mangrove nurseries and assist local mangrove conservation actions. The initiative aims to rehabilitate 5-10 hectares of degraded mangrove areas, engaging Leader Energy’s staff, local communities, students, stakeholders, and volunteers in planting 15,000 to 18,000 mangrove trees through organized tree planting events from 2024 until 2029 (5 years project). The project will deliver dual benefits, empowering the local community for effective mangrove resource management while fostering a resilient ecosystem.”

Mangroves play a role in mitigating climate change by sequestering large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The trees absorb carbon and store it in their biomass and in the surrounding sediment, helping to combat the greenhouse effect. Mangroves act as a natural buffer against coastal erosion and storm surges. Their intricate root systems stabilize shorelines, reducing the impact of waves and protecting coastal communities from the devastating effects of bad weather. Mangroves are essential for fisheries as they provide a rich feeding ground and a safe haven for fish and crustaceans. Many coastal communities depend on these fisheries for their livelihoods, making mangrove conservation crucial for sustaining local economies.

The MOA signing ceremony signifies the commitment of both Leader Energy and GEC to work together towards the conservation and restoration of mangroves in Kuala Muda. By joining forces and engaging the local community, this project aims to create a sustainable future for the mangrove ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. The initiative directly combats global climate change by absorbing carbon and enhancing coastal ecosystems and communities to adapt to climate impacts. It will help establish crucial partnerships with government bodies and implement impactful programs at Kuala Muda. Simultaneously, the project will revitalize degraded mangrove areas, counter environmental threats, promote overall ecosystem health and contribute to the sustainable conservation of mangrove ecosystems through strategic partnerships and community engagement.