Many residents get upset when they see trees being cut down indiscriminately in the name of development in their neighbourhood. I am describing three projects within a small area where I think more trees than necessary have been cut.
The first project is for shop lots and houses along Labrooy Road. One evening while I was taking photos of the trunks of trees that were cut, the boss of AK Nasi Kandar was passing by and said “Murattu marathai vettitaanga” which means “Tough trees have been cut”. I was surprised that a layman knows the value of trees, whereas the engineers who approved the project were ignorant of it.
In the United Kingdom there is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) which is part of town and country planning. Trees on development sites are protected by TPO attached to a planning permission to protect specific trees. TPO’s can prevent felling or uprooting of trees without permission. Local council can make an emergency TPO within a day. TPO was introduced in 1947 and is still relevant.
The British Standard Trees in Relation to Construction Recommendations” (BS 5837) (2005) details the steps that should be taken to ensure that trees are appropriately and successfully retained when a development takes place. BS5837 requires that this decision is made by a “competent arborist”. This means that where there are trees either on a potential development site or within close proximity to the site the District Council will take them into consideration.
If Malaysia wants to be a developed country then it must adopt these types of laws. If MBI engineers were aware of these laws and applied them, the project could have been scaled down and a number of mature trees could have been saved. Can the engineers replace these trees which may be more than 100 years old?
I worked for Brunei Shell in Brunei for many years and when land was cleared for major housing projects, all the trees were not cut. They have a template of the housing plan and do not cut trees between blocks of houses. Trees and a small plot of land would be separating blocks of houses. Bungalow houses do not have fences and are separated by trees. This makes the housing site beautiful.
The second project is the construction of the retention pond in Merdeka Garden. All the trees in a large area have been cut and there are no trees in the vicinity. There were fruit and coconut trees. Birds used to nest in the trees and now have been stripped of their habitat. Where I used to see iguanas and wild fowl, the construction has decimated them. Was it necessary to cut all the trees? If the engineers had been discriminating, many of them could have been saved. I have seen mature trees being dug up and replanted using cranes. I understand that if the trees were not cut, it would be difficult for movement of machinery. This has to be done to preserve nature.
The third project is the construction of the Esso filling station along Jalan Raja Musa Aziz (Anderson Road). When the trees were cut, a number of readers phoned Ipoh Echo to complain. There was no explanation from MBI. Was it really necessary to cut that many mature trees? In fact the trunks of the trees were tall and would not have obstructed the view of the filling station. Is this a suitable place for a filling station?
Do we really need all these developments at a cost to Mother Nature? It is our duty to preserve the earth for our future generations. We must not allow a few people to make quick money.
Has man the right to destroy the flora and fauna. We must have a holistic approach in approving projects and think of the long term impact and not of making a quick profit. Let us replant our beautiful trees and restore Ipoh to its former beauty.