Keep The Flow Going
Flora Eliza Saban joined WWF-Malaysia, Sarawak Conservation Programme, as an intern in July 2015. Not long after graduating from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in Bachelor of Science in Plant Resource Science and Management, she was offered a job as communications assistant in 2016. This gives her the opportunity to be involved in other programmes. Recently, she took part in a field trip held under Freshwater Management and Water Security strategy to learn more about river flows.
Kuching: What I love about rivers is that you’ll never step into the same spot twice in the same river, as the water course is always changing as water finds its natural pathway to flow. Flow is the main driver of biodiversity in rivers. Each type of natural flow pattern plays its own important ecological roles in a river.
On a recent field trip to the Rajang-Belawai Delta, WWF-Mexico Freshwater Coordinator & Practice Leader, Sergio Salinas Rodriguez, joined the freshwater team from Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia to have a look at the river flows and ecosystems in the delta. Sergio, who works on water reserves management and the conservation of aquatic ecosystems in Mexico, shared with us the approaches to establish baseline hydrological understanding of a river basin.
The Rajang Delta is fed by the longest river in Malaysia, which is the Rajang River. The river flows 560 km northwest of Borneo and its basin covers 40% of Sarawak’s land area. The delta contains large tracts of mangrove and peat ecosystems in Sarawak. There is an estimated 91,000 ha of mangroves in the delta, one of the few remaining last large complexes of mangrove systems in Sarawak. These mangroves are habitat to many protected wildlife. Hornbills such as oriental pied and bushy crested hornbills have been sighted. Migratory birds such as the Chinese egret congregate here. Other resident species include the lesser adjutant stork, silver leaf and proboscis monkeys.
Mangrove species from the genus Rhizophora and Avicennia also shield the riverbanks, providing a calm and peaceful sanctuary. One of the speicies that have been observed to take advantage of this is the Irrawaddy dolphins. These dolphins live in harmony with humans. You may spot them swimming around the fishermen’s boat, looking for fish treats.
We in WWF-Malaysia believe that the responsibility of managing river basins to ensure that clean water is available for all, including nature, needs joint efforts and cooperation. Thus, WWF-Malaysia’s Freshwater Programme has been working closely with the government and private sector, to ensure that the river basin is managed with consideration for flows that sustain the river and its aquatic ecosystem health. We promote the implementation of Integrated Watershed Management, sustainable water use, as well as conservation of important freshwater habitats. Integrated Watershed Management is a process that promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.
Flora Eliza Saban