KUALA LUMPUR, August 20 – In a concerted effort to safeguard water resources and protect the Klang River Basin, Berjaya Sompo Insurance Berhad (Berjaya Sompo) and Global Environment Centre (GEC) have teamed up to kick-start the River Slope Mitigation through Tree Planting initiative. Collaborating with the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Gombak, Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA) Gombak and Petaling District, Jungle School Gombak Malaysia, and Friends of Sungai Gombak Batu 12 at Kampung Batu 12.
Gombak, the initiative aims to foster stakeholder engagements with the local indigenous (Orang Asli) community and enhance the biodiversity of the area. With over 40 volunteers from both Berjaya Sompo and the Orang Asli community, the initiative commenced with the planting of over 730 trees, including Senduduk, Simpoh Air, Gapis, Vetiver, and Buluh termiang at the Gombak River slope in Kampung Batu 12. The project will also involve the Orang Asli communities through the Friends of Sungai Gombak Batu 12 platform, empowering them to monitor the river and the trees planted.
Addressing the significance of the initiative, Berjaya Sompo’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Tan Sek Kee, stated, “Environmental sustainability is not just about reducing our carbon footprint, but also about actively contributing to the well-being of our local communities. By addressing slope mitigation, we prevent potential disasters and create a safer environment for our people, flora, fauna, and river.” Recognizing that 97% of Malaysia’s water supply comes from rivers, tree planting through bioengineering techniques serves as a vital nature-based solution to protect water resources from riverbank erosions and enhance the ecosystem’s health and biodiversity.
Notably, this project adopts the soil bioengineering technique for the first time in Gombak River, with direct involvement from the local Orang Asli community. The community was empowered on slope bioengineering techniques through training by GEC, which not only supports the initiative but also provides them with additional sources of income. The project also aims to establish and manage a nursery for the community, creating an alternative income generation model through a green economy approach. Dr Kalithasan Kailasam, GEC River Care Programme Manager, lauded Berjaya Sompo for their commitment to the project and highlighted the importance of corporate involvement, government agencies, and NGOs in environmental conservation and restoration efforts.
Following the tree planting activity, GEC’s Programme Officers conducted a river monitoring demonstration as part of the river education initiative and follow-up monitoring. Participants, including Berjaya Sompo staff, were also given the opportunity to learn about the lifestyle and culture of the local indigenous community. The River Slope Mitigation through Tree Planting initiative signifies a promising step towards preserving Malaysia’s water resources and promoting sustainable environmental practices.