This year, Sarawak Tourism Board’s tree planting effort went towards supplementing the Kuching Wetland National Park reforestation program. RWMF participants planted around 250 saplings of Rhizophora spp (Bakau), an important dietary plant for the native Nasalis Larvatus, or commonly known as the Proboscis.
Rhizophora species have arching stilt roots that emerge from the trunk. This explains their scientific name Rhizophora, which means "root bearer" in Greek.
Mangroves provide a number of ecosystem services. They provide support in unstable soil, create a buffer against storms and strong currents, allow filter feeders such as barnacles and sponges to cling on to the aerial roots, and more.
The mangrove plant also provides food and shelter to small and big creatures, and useful material for people such as the production of charcoal and piling material in construction.
Angelina Patricia Bateman, Sarawak Tourism Board events and corporate relations director, said “the objective of the tree-planting programme is to create awareness on conservation efforts and the ecological values of Sarawak’s rich and diverse flora and fauna while complementing the festival’s conservation of endangered musical instruments, songs and dances.”
Speaking about endangered, according to Borneo Post, 5 of the 104 species of birds at this wetland park have been classified as almost endangered, 7 species fully protected and 38 species protected under the Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.
The Proboscis itself has been listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Performers of RWMF and invited media joined in the tree planting activity, not minding the scorching sun and soft mud too much.
“It’s a wonderful thing to plant trees,” said Christophe Erard, vocalist, musician and at this festival, the manager of Ndima band from Congo Brazzaville. “And here we are performing at a festival that is set amidst the forest!”, referring to Santubong forest at Damai.
Inspired, he dedicated a tune to nature with his flute, never mind the sinking feet.
Appreciative performers went on to wow the crowd at the three-day renowned world music festival that was held at Sarawak Cultural Village.
Next year, the festival will take place from 22 to 24 July 2016 at the same venue in Santubong.
More tree planting would likely take place, to strengthen Sarawak’s nature conservation and inspiring performers at this forest fiesta!