23 June 2024

Of hiking trails and environmental concerns


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Every year, millions of tons of waste end up in our environment. This pollution not only poses a direct threat to us and the wildlife but can also contribute to climate change. Studies suggest a link between pollution and increased greenhouse gas emissions, by the release of harmful gases into the atmosphere.

A recent program by Universiti Malaya (UM) addressed this very issue by combining the joy of exploration with environmental responsibility. Their innovative “pliking” initiative tackled littering head-on, highlighting the importance of individual actions in combating climate change and protecting our planet’s delicate ecosystems.

The said program was called the Bestari Young Adventure (BEYAD) program, an annual initiative organized by Kolej Kediaman Keempat UM that promotes outdoor activities and environmental responsibility. This year’s event saw a record 104 participants, including UM students from various faculties and volunteers from YouthCare Malaysia, embark on hikes at three separate locations, namely Bukit Broga, Bukit Batu Putih, and Sungai Lepoh.

While BEYAD traditionally focuses on hiking, the 2024 program introduced a new twist: “pliking,” a combination of picking up litter and hiking. This innovative approach aimed to address environmental concerns while participants enjoyed the outdoors.

“We are proud that BEYAD 2024 not only encouraged outdoor adventure but also offered a chance to give back to the environment,” said Muhammad Fareez Iskandar Osman, Director of BEYAD 2024 and a student of environmental management at UM’s Faculty of Science. “The positive impact of this initiative is twofold – promoting physical activity and fostering a sense of environmental responsibility.”

The participants’ efforts resulted in the collection of almost 100kg of litter across the three hiking trails. Beyond the immediate impact of cleaning, the program fostered camaraderie and environmental awareness. Students from ecology and biodiversity studies shared their knowledge of plant and insect life encountered along the trails, enriching the experience for everyone.

Prof. Dr. Wan Himratul Aznita Wan Harun, Principal of Kolej Kediaman Keempat, applauded the students’ initiative. “We are impressed by the organization of this impactful program within a short timeframe,” she said. “BEYAD 2024 serves as a platform for participants to understand that environmental preservation starts with simple actions like picking up litter. This program exemplifies the power of teamwork in creating positive change.”

The program also aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). By exploring Malaysia’s rainforests and actively removing waste, participants gained a deeper appreciation for the environment and the importance of sustainable practices.

Nur Ezlin Shahril Nizam, a participant who hiked at Bukit Batu Putih in Negeri Sembilan, shared her enthusiasm. “This was my first time exploring the hills of Port Dickson, and the view from the top was breathtaking,” she said. “Knowing that we contributed to keeping the environment clean for others made the experience even more special.”

The most commonly collected litter included food packaging, cigarette butts, and plastic containers. Notably, the participants learned about the potential for mosquito breeding in discarded containers at higher altitudes. This knowledge emphasized the importance of proper waste disposal to prevent the spread of diseases like dengue fever.

The success of BEYAD 2024 will pave the way for future iterations of the program. Universiti Malaya and Kolej Kediaman Keempat’s commitment to fostering environmental consciousness among students ensures that BEYAD will continue to inspire the younger generations to explore outdoor adventure and become responsible environmental stewards.

Please contact Muhammad Fareez Iskandar Osman at fareeziskandar.osman@gmail.com for further details on the program