PARTNER CONTENT FOR SIME DARBY PROPERTY

THE BIODIVERSITY JOURNEY: BUILDING A CONSERVATION HAVEN

Our planet is suffering from severe biodiversity loss, a major existential risk that can cripple future generations. Homes of flora and fauna across the planet are wiped out because of human disturbance and climate change.

“Children born in 2020 will face up to seven times more extreme weather events than their grandparents.”

Reported by Save the Children Fund, 2021

The grim reality is that our children are born into this planetary crisis and will inherit these problems not of their own making. Before the younger generations, like environmental activist Greta Thunberg, accuse us of “stealing their dreams”, it is time to take tangible action to course-correct humanity’s race to progress, to bring about a sustainable future and not a legacy of planet failure.
How Can We Progress Sustainably?

While the responsibility to conserve the environment lies within every individual, the onus is unequivocally more urgent with larger organisations. Tech giants like Microsoft and Apple are walking their big talk with the former planning to remove the amount of carbon it has emitted since the organisation was founded. Apple on the other hand, has set a goal for its entire supply chain to be carbon neutral by 2030.

This doesn’t have to be a pipedream. For property developer Sime Darby Property (SDP), the walk begins with the reimagination of its townships, starting with the City of Elmina. Its Group Managing Director Dato’ Azmir Merican says that the key to progressing sustainably is for new developments to adopt landscape strategies that prioritise biodiversity conservation and restoration.

Good biodiversity conservation work, such as rewilding, creating more green spaces and bringing communities and partners into the process, is perhaps one of the best ways to solve the many human-created environmental issues.

Dato’ Azmir Merican
Group Managing Director, Sime Darby Property

Why is biodiversity important? Ecologist and Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre Executive Director Dr. Dzaeman Dzulkifli says that biodiversity is the effect of millions of years of evolution, encapsulating everything that is living around us including plants, microbes, animals and even ourselves.
To be disconnected from nature is to not exist, so we need to be working in synergy with our environment and nature.

Dr. Dzaeman Dzulkifli Executive Director, Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre

While the upward trend of urbanisation is inevitable, investment in nature-based solutions – including the management, protection and most essentially the restoration of natural ecosystems and habitats – can help to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions through the increase of carbon sinks that also support more biological diversity. Building a biodiversity haven in an urban setting is what Sime Darby Property has set out to do at its wellness-oriented township, the City of Elmina.
Rewild: Earth Matters
rewilding, or re-wilding (verb)
Conservation efforts aimed at restoring sustainable biodiversity and ecosystem health [and functionality] by protecting core wild or wilderness areas, repairing damaged ecosystems and restoring degraded landscapes.
Rewild: Earth Matters
rewilding, or re-wilding (verb)
Conservation efforts aimed at restoring sustainable biodiversity and ecosystem health [and functionality] by protecting core wild or wilderness areas, repairing damaged ecosystems and restoring degraded landscapes.
Source: What Is Rewilding, True Nature Foundation & What Is Rewilding, Rewilding Europe
At the City of Elmina, SDP is pioneering a rewilding movement, with the incorporation of urban forested landscapes into its masterplan.
The wellness-oriented township was planned with a 300-acre Central Park at the heart of its masterplan. Eventually, the Elmina Central Park will be populated with native forest trees that originate from the adjacent 2,700-acre Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve and is a way to extend the natural biodiversity within the forest reserve into the urban fabric of the township.
At the City of Elmina, SDP is pioneering a rewilding movement, with the incorporation of urban forested landscapes into its masterplan.
The wellness-oriented township was planned with a 300-acre Central Park at the heart of its masterplan. Eventually, the Elmina Central Park will be populated with native forest trees that originate from the adjacent 2,700-acre Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve and is a way to extend the natural biodiversity within the forest reserve into the urban fabric of the township.

The Journey To A Sustainable Future

It takes more than a sound landscape strategy to build a true biodiverse township and conservation haven for future generations. Understanding this, SDP has developed a sustainability approach to guide Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) outcomes that are translated into effective township master planning and community engagement initiatives. These include:

01

Zero Primary-Rainforest Removal Policy

SDP believes in balancing development and the importance of conserving our tropical rainforests. As a Force For Good, the company has a strict policy in ensuring that its development practices do not disturb any primary rainforest. This requirement is firmly embedded in its Sustainability Policy.

02

A Tree-for-Tree replacement policy and planting of endangered species target across all its developments

For over a decade, SDP has been tracking its effort of tree planting across its developments. The company targets to achieve a 1:1 tree replacement policy when converting oil-palm plantations to township developments, including the planting of Endangered, Rare and Threatened (ERT) species of trees which constitutes a minimum target of 10% of trees planted.

To date, the company has successfully planted more than 122,000 trees, including more than 22,000 trees that are assessed as ERT species under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, which exceeds SDP’s current targets.

03

Good biodiversity practices

SDP’s good biodiversity practices start with a strategic ambition that is translated onto its landscape plan, to foster a functional ecosystem within the township as it is developed. The company practises multi-species planting to boost flora diversity, which further provides a variety resources for a diverse urban wildlife, such as birds and insects, creating a safe environment and a thriving habitat.

The wildlife will then support other ecosystem services including pollination, seed dispersal; while acting as a biological control agent in an urban environment. By focusing on the aesthetics and monoculture species that ensures uniformity, planting diverse species of native trees also helps combat heat-island effects better (high temperatures in urban spaces), and further acts as a mitigation strategy against climate change impacts.

In order to monitor ecosystem benefits sustained by the green areas within the urban landscape, SDP has conducted biodiversity inventories within the City of Elmina in collaboration with the Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre (TRCRC). The company has published the “Malaysian Threatened and Rare Tree Identification and Landscape Guideline” and prepared (unpublished) a “Wetlands Construction and Maintenance Guideline” for adoption and implementation to ensure good biodiversity practices across its developments.

03

Good biodiversity practices

SDP’s good biodiversity practices start with a strategic ambition that is translated onto its landscape plan, to foster a functional ecosystem within the township as it is developed. The company practises multi-species planting to boost flora diversity, which further provides a variety resources for a diverse urban wildlife, such as birds and insects, creating a safe environment and a thriving habitat.
The wildlife will then support other ecosystem services including pollination, seed dispersal; while acting as a biological control agent in an urban environment. By focusing on the aesthetics and monoculture species that ensures uniformity, planting diverse species of native trees also helps combat heat-island effects better (high temperatures in urban spaces), and further acts as a mitigation strategy against climate change impacts.
In order to monitor ecosystem benefits sustained by the green areas within the urban landscape, SDP has conducted biodiversity inventories within the City of Elmina in collaboration with the Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre (TRCRC). The company has published the “Malaysian Threatened and Rare Tree Identification and Landscape Guideline” and prepared (unpublished) a “Wetlands Construction and Maintenance Guideline” for adoption and implementation to ensure good biodiversity practices across its developments.

04

A dedicated rainforest, research and conservation centre

Located at the City of Elmina, the Elmina Rainforest Knowledge Centre (ERKC), operated by TRCRC, is the first-of-its-kind one-stop-centre for forestry research, conservation, education and recreation that has the main overarching objective of connecting people to nature and improving the public’s climate and environmental literacy.

05

Strategic partnership with an NGO specialising in conservation

SDP has partnered with TRCRC to develop the ERKC and the adjoining two-acre Elmina Living Collection Nursery (ELCN) (with space to be extended to 10 acres) to house the propagation, care and conservation of native tree species categorised as ERT tree species, assessed by the IUCN.

06

Continuous community engagement and education

Friends of ERKC is a community interest group with a common goal for nature preservation and sustainable living. This community group will be established as part of the Elmina Rainforest Knowledge Centre’s commitment to connect like-minded individuals for long-term educational programmes, focusing on biodiversity and conservation.
Overcoming Challenges

Realising the vision of a green city is not without challenges. Multiple stakeholders and authorities had to be engaged and were invited to be on board with the conception of ERKC as it was a pilot project of this nature by a property developer.

On top of these, funding and sourcing for a suitable partner to run the operations were challenges that the property developer has taken in its stride.

The collaborative partnership

SDP partnered up with TRCRC, a leading non-profit and industry expert on tropical rainforest conservation and ecology. TRCRC has a successful track record on conservation action, leading landscape-wide protection and restoration projects throughout the country. It is an internationally recognised organisation working on safeguarding Malaysia’s rainforest. TRCRC believes in working on the ground in order to address the critical rate of biodiversity loss – one of the most pressing issues facing today’s society.

Long-term partnerships strengthen the means of implementing more meaningful commitments to ecologically sound sustainability practices. The collaborative partnership, that places the environment at the core, highlights both organisation’s shared values in the conservation of biodiversity.

The collaborative partnership

TRCRC has a successful track record on conservation action, leading landscape-wide protection and restoration projects throughout the country. It is an internationally recognised organisation working on safeguarding Malaysia’s rainforest. TRCRC believes in working on the ground in order to address the critical rate of biodiversity loss – one of the most pressing issues facing today’s society.
Long-term partnerships strengthen the means of implementing more meaningful commitments to ecologically sound sustainability practices. The collaborative partnership, that places the environment at the core, highlights both organisation’s shared values in the conservation of biodiversity.
Protecting and conserving threatened, and endangered plant species is at the heart of what we do. Our collaboration with Sime Darby Property will help raise awareness on the plight of the Malaysian rainforest, and hopefully make rainforest conservation more accessible for people to participate in.

Dr. Dzaeman Dzulkifli
Executive Director, Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre

TRCRC is dedicated to community-powered conservation and has been running public outreach programmes at the ERKC, with funding from SDP’s philanthropic arm, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD). With long-term support from YSD, TRCRC has rehabilitated, restored and enriched around 45 hectares of degraded ecosystems across the country.

YSD has committed to helping TRCRC build up the capacity to not only carry out conservation and restoration work, but also to conduct knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing with other stakeholders to ensure that more individuals and organisations can effectively conduct restoration programmes of their own.

A Conservation Haven,
In The Making

Serving a greater purpose, the ERKC and its adjacent Elmina Living Collection Nursery (ELCN) allows the company to have a constant supply of forest trees for planting within its townships as well as for external parties for reforestation initiatives.

Today, TRCRC has successfully propagated a total of 187 species of plants at ELCN, including over 35,000 seeds sowed and more than 10,000 tree saplings stored in its holding area. TRCRC’s conservation efforts at the ELCN underpin an essential step in maintaining green landscapes in the future.

The City of Elmina aims to plant a total of 210,000 trees throughout the township by 2040, with 10% or 21,000 of them being IUCN trees. To date, the township has successfully planted over 41,000 trees including 5,691 IUCN trees.

Across all its townships, SDP has planted over 116,000 trees within the past decade to help mitigate the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss. Based on an estimate going back as far as 1972 when the company’s first township was being developed, the number of trees planted could reach as high as half a million trees.

In extending this effort, SDP has further pledged its goal of planting a minimum of 50,000 trees that are threatened by extinction by 2030. As of last year, more than 23,000 threatened trees have been planted. This achievement demonstrates the company’s commitment in planting at least 10% of ERT species of trees in all its developments.
Although rewilding is a long-term process, its results are shown to be fruitful and lasting for the betterment of the environment and surrounding communities. We have surpassed the company’s policy commitment in planting a minimum of 10% ERT tree species throughout our developments, and we will continue this journey until a valuable impact is made.

Dato’ Azmir Merican
Group Managing Director, Sime Darby Property

Preserving biodiversity is a journey. Mother Nature will take time to rewild and regenerate an ecosystem, but when that occurs, the results are fruitful and will ultimately be a lasting legacy for many generations to come.
Discover how important our tropical rainforests are to the world as we embark on this journey in building a conservation haven.
Join us to make a change.
    • Disclaimer: photos as published on The Star, 1 June 2022

    • Disclaimer: photos as published on The Star, 1 June 2022

    • Disclaimer: photos as published on The Star, 1 June 2022

    • Disclaimer: photos as published on The Star, 1 June 2022

    • Disclaimer: photos as published on The Star, 1 June 2022