Now everyone can report hill clearing activities using Whatspp or email! Penang Forum held a press conference this morning to launch the Penang Hills Watch initiative.

Penang’s hills: our natural heritage under threat

Penang’s hills are the last remaining areas on the island to have lush forests. From forestry records only 7.4 per cent of Penang state is forested land, and only 6 per cent is protected forest.

The forested hills are Penang’s natural heritage. They function as water catchments to provide water supply, prevent soil erosion and landslides, are gene banks for a rich diversity of plant and animal species, and are the green lungs for nature appreciation and outdoor recreation.

These hills are fragile and easily degraded when disrupted by human activities. Housing development and hill farming activities are expanding into sloping and hilly land. Members of the public and the press are increasingly voicing concern over hill-clearing activities that are damaging to the environment.

Penang Forum (PF), a coalition of Penan–based NGOs and individuals, has been receiving reports from citizens at large about hill clearing activities through social media and personal contacts.

PF member Dr Kam Suan Pheng said the idea emerged that it would be useful to collate and map such information to provide a comprehensive picture of the scale and extent of such activities.

The Penang Hills Watch Initiative

Penang Hills Watch (PHW) is Penang Forum’s response to this idea. It is a citizens-oriented initiative to provide an information platform for keeping watch on activities affecting the hills of Penang. The main objectives of the PHW initiative are to:

  • involve the public in reporting hill clearing activities in Penang;
  • enhance public awareness about hill clearing issues and impacts; and
  • foster civil society participation in information sharing and exchange with government agencies relating to hill clearing issues.

To achieve these objectives, PHW has established and will maintain an online repository of mapped information on hill-clearing activities collected through crowd-sourcing from the public as well as official records obtained from relevant government agencies.

PHW solicits a broad constituency of concerned members of the public – including hikers, NGOs, residents’ associations and the press – to report observations on hill clearing activities.

Such information is systematically documented and made publicly accessible to make people aware about hill-clearing issues and impacts, and for galvanising action to safeguard what is remaining of the forested hills of Penang for future generations.

To this end, PHW will engage with and seek assistance from relevant government departments and municipal councils in this initiative as it is in line with the state’s policy for a greener Penang.

According to PF member Rexy Prakash Chacko, making a report on observed hill clearing activities involves a few simple steps using the smart phone or the social media.

Coming across a hill clearing activity that is potentially of concern, the observer can take a photo using a smart phone and send it via WhatsApp, with a brief written description, to the PHW hotline at +60 11 51274277.

With the location setting turned on, the observer also sends the GPS coordinates of the affected site.

Alternatively, the observer can send the same information via email ([email protected]) or through Facebook (@PenangHillsWatch).

Received reports shall be verified by PHW volunteers and will then be entered into the online repository which can be viewed in a mapped form at the https://hillclearinginpenang.ushahidi.io/views/map. (It is recommended to use Google Chrome as the internet browser while viewing this map.)

The Penang Hills Watch page contains four categories of information. They comprise:

citizens’ observations on:

  • hill-clearing for building and infrastructure development
  • hill-clearing for farming activities

available official records of the municipal council(s) on:

  • illegal hill clearing activities
  • approved development projects on gazetted hill land (land above 250 feet (76m) or with slopes steeper than 25 degrees.

A downloadable brochure and instruction videos on how to submit ground observation reports and how to use the PHW online page to view the mapped information are available from the Penang Forum website. Alternatively the instruction videos can be viewed at the Penang Hills Watch Youtube channel.

PHW contacts and links:
Whatsapp hotline: +6011-51274277 (please send photo with brief description and GPS coordinates)
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: @PenangHillsWatch
Web repository: https://hillclearinginpenang.ushahidi.io/views/map
Instructions: Penang Forum website and Youtube.

Please help to support this blog if you can.

Join in the conversation

34 COMMENTS

  1. only those believe in rain and injin medicine man and ignorant of extreme events and probabilities. ask scientists about design rainfall earthquake (weak, medium, strong and very strong) or wind speed. too bad layman only knows snakeoil medicine whereas chinaman in china has designed fantastic structures like three gorges dam.

  2. Nature’s relentless hit back?
    Or is it Karmic pay back? Week after week?

    Flooding, landslides hit Penang again; SPM students stranded in homes
    https://sg.news.yahoo.com/flooding-landslides-hit-penang-again-010659135.html

    Landslide cuts off road in Teluk Bahang, Penang
    http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/11/07/landslide-teluk-bahang-penang/

    Don’t tell us this is (coincidentally) excessive rain + high tides, week after week!
    Of course 28th Floor Komtar is safe + comfortable way above any flood, even if it is a Biblical Flood!
    Nyiamak!!!

  3. ‘Rapid development, hillslope cutting irrefutably cause of Penang floods’
    https://sg.news.yahoo.com/rapid-development-hillslope-cutting-irrefutably-034213736.html

    GEORGE TOWN: A university environment specialist has dismissed the Penang government’s claim that extensive development in the state was not the cause of flash floods that happened three times in a week here.

    On the contrary, said Professor Chan Ngai Weng from Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) School of Humanities, it was rapid development and unscrupulous hillslope cutting that contributed to environmental degradation.

    Chan, who specialises in environment hazard management, told the New Sunday Times that development in Penang was moving at a swift rate and flood mitigation measures were not prioritised.

    “It is unwise to dismiss rapid development and hillslope cutting as the cause of flash floods.

    “In fact, changing land use from green areas to urban built-up areas reduces permeable surfaces,” he said, taking the DAP-led state government and even the previous administration in Penang to task for “not doing enough”.

    “Cutting hillslopes weakens soil structure and leads to erosion, forcing sediments to flow into rivers.

    “These are certainly part of the reasons behind the slew of floods statewide.”

    River encroachment also posed another problem, he said.

    “Development happens very close to rivers, leaving river water no room to manoeuvre,” he said.

    Chan said low-lying areas close to rivers were also undergoing rapid development, causing high rates of surface run-off that was not being absorbed into the ground.

    Urban drainage was also poorly planned, he said, with much irrigation still depending on the open monsoon drain system, although the Irrigation and Drainage Department had adopted the environmentally-friendly urban drainage model called the urban storm water management (MSMA).

    Chan added that contractors did not follow the MSMA drainage system because it was costly.

    He also blamed litterbugs and poor enforcement by the authorities, which had caused clogged drains and rivers.

    Citing an example, Chan said the USM engineering campus was built on a MSMA drainage system and rainwater was allowed to seep into the ground and flow into the river.

    “Of course, climate change has also contributed to an increase in rainfall, but we cannot solely blame nature. When it rains, it only floods in urban and suburban areas, and not forested areas.”

    © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

    • Low lying areas under rapid development quoted by Prof Chan. Penang forum must be sleeping also prof chan said rivers have no room to manoeuver. So why Pf also blind and look at wrong place up the hills only cause?
      Prof too simplistic and assume rainwater just soak into the ground in DID MSMA. There are engineer’s calculations and gathering of rainfall and flood level records. What prof knows about flood modelling which engineer only knows what parameters he need to adopt in his hydrology model.

    • if pulau can go balik with tornado how come all are not pointing at mt komtar? flood put blame at komtar and not tornado? pg lang loves goats scraping around and four fingers at himself and one finger at others

  4. I am very happy!
    This web repository adds more fire (passion) & purpose for environmental protection of Penang’s hills.
    Penang Hills Watch truly makes my day!

    May I add: the web repository could add a ‘before & after’ photos comparison for each ‘exposed’ hill clearing to enlighten the public
    whether any proper action has been taken by MBPP or Jabatan Perhilitan (Forestry Dept). No improvement ( no hill / forest rehabilitation ) means
    absolute arrogance of culprits. And this calls for MBPP or Jabatan Perhilitan to follow up with stern action.

    On another note:
    1) Legality of ‘flying drones’ above private properties like hill farms & hill properties.
    Legal complicity may arrive should private hill land owners sue the drone flyers for infringement of privacy.
    Photos taken of hill clearing can be backed up by a license to ‘shoot’ (only of hill clearing & forest degradation) & this
    special license can be issued by a proper gomen body (Jabatan Perhilitan?).
    2) Shooting down of drones by hill clearing culprits. Hill watch initiative by drone flyers may take some procrastination
    should they decide on the risk of whether to fly their expensive drones for this purpose. Some funding reserves for compensation
    of downed drones to be considered?
    3) Rules & legality of ‘exposing’ hill clearings & forest degradation on private hills & forest reserves.
    Some form of guidelines will help individuals fighting for environmental protection of Penang’s hills.

    • Tun lang will be unhappy. Maybe create another watch of the tomb raiders like hill watch? Then after 1 year can compare the credits and deficits and net gains\loss?

    • Najib has open the floodgate for the PRC Chinese to come and raid the Penang properties, as there will be direct flight from Shanghai to Penang by MAS next year?

  5. Anil. May I add:
    the web repository could also add a highlight under each ‘exposed’ hill clearing arrow with –
    whether follow up action (compound or court order or whatever action expected of MBPP) has been taken on the culprit OR no action at all.
    This will explain a lot of whether our local authorities are doing their Rakyat Bayar Gaji job.
    Put a tally of all ‘exposed’ hill clearing to all MBPP action & we will see the extent (%) of local authorities “Ada Bikin Serupa Cakap”

    The above suggestion may improve the purpose of this web repository & make MBPP alert to & accountable for going after each environmental crime.

  6. Certain enforcers have decided that drones are prohibited above crowds – with no assistance from our busy legislators. Perhaps the next will be drones at collapsing hillsides and disappearing forests. Too many citizens seriously expect their public servants to serve them.

  7. Reading from the online repository map, I see that Paya Terubong valley has the worst hill-cutting activities based on an axis (a line of focused spots) of destruction of forests.
    The shock comes when one sees the real images of wanton destructions & senseless rapes (in broad day light) of our natural heritage.
    What’s the usefulness of a Cosmopolitan status when we may eventually have to beg for raw river water from other states?
    By then, Got Money, Cannot Even Drink Clean Tap Water!

  8. Excessive Greed of individuals + corporations & an Indifferent & Arrogant state gomen are the twin-evils of environmental crimes
    (regardless of how good or believable the mantra is of greener & cleaner my foot)

    READ: When you destroy forests, you jeopardise clean water supply
    http://www.star2.com/living/living-environment/2016/11/01/how-deforestation-affects-the-environment/
    From Cameron Highlands and Penang Hill to Gua Musang in Kelantan, deforestation around the country is jeopardising our environment.

  9. WATCH This Film: ‘Before the Flood’ (available to stream online free of charge for one week) before you have to pay for it.

    DiCaprio’s ‘Before the Flood’ will be available to stream online for free
    http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/2016/10/30/dicaprios-before-the-flood-will-be-available-to-stream-online-for-free/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FreeMalaysiaToday+%28FMT+News%29
    Due to air October 30 on the National Geographic Channel, the film “Before the Flood” will also be available to stream online free of charge for one week on various digital platforms. The aim is to raise awareness about climate change — the theme of this documentary produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese — by getting as many people as possible to watch the film.
    The makers of “Before the Flood” hope to get their documentary seen by as many global citizens as possible. The film has already been released in US movie theaters in New York and Los Angeles, presented at various film festivals — including Toronto — and screened at the United Nations and the White House. The documentary will now be shown October 30 on the National Geographic Channel in 171 countries and in 45 languages.
    To ensure it reaches the biggest possible audience, the film will also be available to stream free online from October 30 to November 5. For one week, web users will be able to access the documentary on multiple platforms, including the National Geographic website, Natgeotv.com, and its application, available for Android, iPhone, iPad, and on Apple TV, PlayStation, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The film will also be available on iTunes, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google Play.

      • You got 1 week (1st – 7th Nov) to download for Absolute Vodka FREE, after that have to pay Like No Money, No Talk.
        This is not a 1MDB financial leakage sponsored movie, so do your checking.
        Komtar 28th Floor should see this movie 3 times to sink deep in the CAT’s Brains.
        I download a copy yesterday – 1.79 GB @1080p
        Title: Before the Flood – Full Movie | National Geographic (You Tube)

      • Before The Flood by Leonardo DiCarpio, a 2016 documentary on environmental issues.
        Not sure funded by Red Granite from the popular fund.

      • An environmental message is for the everyone & the world, not for political spinning, paham kah?
        Otherwise, Penang’s Greener & Cleaner Mantra has no hope whatsoever!
        Pls think carefully instead of pandering to political euphemism is the face of reality.

      • the green man who flew in private jet from ny to la 5 times in 1 week. how much co2 cause global warming?

  10. A simple water flow experiment:
    1) Get 2 guys, one a 101% botak (slippery shiny without a string of head hair) & another one a 101% headful of hair, curly the better.
    2) Get a mini handheld garden sprinkler & start ‘showering’ lightly from above of each head type for 30 seconds.
    3) Collect the run off water right after the neck base line, timed for one minute right after ‘showering’ starts.
    4) Compare the amount of run off water between the two.
    5) Share your verdict with MBPP & 28th Floor Komtar in video format or still photos.
    6) In an event of any dispute of cause+effect of environmental flooding,
    point your fingers at the real-time evidences of botak-ed hills of Penang (on a freaky rainy day the better).

    Cheers Kopi-O kau kau.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Facebook Comments