Mangrove Rehabilitation Program at Kampong Pengkalan Hulu, Serkat, Johor: A Community Service Program by Department of Landscape Architecture
On 21st April 2012, 60 landscape architectural undergraduates and Dr Ismail Said participated in a community service program, Mangrove Rehabilitation at Kampong Pengkalan Hulu, Serkat. The main purpose of the program was to collaborate with a non-governmental organization, JARING (Jaringan Kebajikan dan Pendidikan Nelaysan Pantai Malaysia) to collect mangrove seeds and to plant them in polyethylene bags as nursery stock.
The program began with a lecture from JARING on mangrove ecosystem at the information centre of mangrove rehabilitation in Kukup town. With the ecosystem knowledge, the students proceeded to Kukup Island with Encik Jamaluddin Mohammad as the guide. They were taught on the roles of mangrove and its intricate correlation with the coastal community of Kukup and Serkat. It was an interesting experience, traversing the forest on boardwalk and walking on hanging bridge in a rainy morning. Students were exposed to the elements of the ecosystem as well with its fauna; lizards, wild pigs, molluscs, crustaceans, monkeys, and snakes. They were taught on the characteristics of the mangrove species which was dominated by Rhizophoraceae. With the short experience, they were brought to Kampong Pengkalan Hulu, 7 km from Kukup town.
After completing Zohor prayer at the Serkat mosque, the students were served by the villagers with a lunch; rice, chicken fried with soya sauce, cabbage masak lemak, and chilly fried shrimp. It was a splendid meal. Then the rehabilitation program divided the students into two groups: (A) collecting Rhizophora seeds, and (B) filling polyethylene bag with silt. As the group A dispersed into the forest, they encountered the battle of getting their feet stuck into the soft, silty ground. Those who walked slowly were bound to struggle to pull their feet from the mud. Hence, to avoid getting stuck, some students ran fast on the mangrove forest floor. Each student was instructed by JARING to collect 10 seeds. And, all managed to get the required volume. On the other hand, group B ploughed the silty ground excavating mud and filling it into hundred of polyethylene bags. Beyond their expectation, the task was difficult but enjoyable because it was their first time experience doing it. After a short rest, the task for collecting the seeds was continued by group B. Likewise, group A sowed the elongated seeds into all the bags with lots of laughter seeing each one struggle to walk on the soft ground. Once both tasks completed, the students had another experience; washing the sticky mud from their shoes, feet and hands.
At 5:30pm, the community service program ended with presenting a sum of cash to Encik Jamaluddin Mohammad. The money was collected by the students for the Kampong Pengkalan Hulu community. The participatory event with the community taught a good lesson to all students on mangrove ecosystem as well as caring the environment for the future generation.