24th March 2016
Pulau Tioman, Pahang: A team comprising four community representatives from Perhentian Island recently made a visit to Tioman Island. The purpose of the trip was to learn about Reef Check Malaysia’s Cintai Tioman project, its objectives, activities and how the team works with the local community of Tioman Island. Ultimately the goal is to replicate Cintai Tioman in Perhentian.
Cintai Tioman is a 5-year programme of Reef Check Malaysia (RCM), designed to enhance the resilience of coral reefs and social resilience of the community on Tioman Island. The programme is funded by Yayasan Sime Darby. The objectives of this programme include reducing local impacts to the reefs as well as building capacity of the local community and empowering them to take a greater role in coral reef conservation and management. Cintai Tioman is now in its third year and notable achievements include a recycling programme for the island, marine awareness programmes for the local school and villagers, as well as a variety of skills training with the local villagers such as computer literacy, First Aid training and reef rehabilitation training.
The programmes and activities of Cintai Tioman are targeted at preparing and equipping the local community with skills that will allow them to manage the natural resources of their island in the long run. Various studies have shown that community managed marine protected areas have thriving ecosystems that are thriving well. However, this can only happen if the local community is aware of their responsibilities, have a sense of ownership and are able to strike a balance between conservation and meeting their daily needs. Since Tioman Island is already a marine protected area (MPA) under the Department of Marine Parks Malaysia (DMPM), it is hoped in the long run that the members of the local community can work together with DMPM to protect the island and its natural resources.
The recent trip was to prepare the team from Perhentian with the necessary exposure and understanding of the activities on Tioman Island. They were shown how the recycling on Tioman works, and also how resorts, villagers and local NGOs on the island are able to work together and solve certain issues The next step would be the gradual transferring of skills and experience to Perhentian Island, and to the local community. Wid Zuriana, Project Leader of the Perhentian Turtle Project said “I find that Tioman has a very organised way to deal with rubbish and compost. I have so many ideas after visiting Tioman. Hopefully we can do the same in Perhentian. We hope to be able to replicate the efforts of Cintai Tioman on Perhentian Island with the help of FuzeEcoteer and members of the community”.
Both these islands are some of the top island destinations in Malaysia targeted by tourists. However, the marine ecosystems here suffer from many threats which can destroy coral reefs and marine life. One way to address these threats is by empowering the local community to take charge and protect their own island from deteriorating. “I hope that the business operators and locals will support the Cintai Perhentian initiative and play an active role in its efforts”, said Alvin Chelliah, Programme Manager of the Cintai Tioman project.
This effort is in line with Reef Check Malaysia’s long term vision of achieving sustainable coral reef management. Besides addressing the needs of the community and building an effective MPA management, RCM is also addressing the local impacts to coral reefs, one of the goals stated in the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
|Alvin explaining how Cintai Tioman is run to two of the Perhentian team members|