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September 17, 2023 – On 17 September 2023, a collaborative effort led by Professor Dr Kasturi Devi Kanniah from the Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Water Security (IPASA) and the Faculty of Built Environment and Surveying (FABU) at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) successfully coordinated a “Right Tree at Right Place” tree planting initiative in Meridin East, Pasir Gudang, Johor. A diverse group of people attended the event that involved Majlis Bandaraya Pasir Gudang (MBPG) and the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), including UTM staff and students, representatives from MBPG and FRIM, students from primary and secondary schools, and members of the neighbourhood (Rakan Taman).

CIMB Foundation generously provided funding for this event with the aim of creating a green space that the local community can enjoy and explore. The primary goal was to plant 500 trees of different species within the Pasir Gudang region. Pasir Gudang has been identified as one of the top 5 cities in Malaysia that has experienced the most significant temperature increase over the past few decades. Due to the increasing human activities and the frequent movement of heavy vehicles in Pasir Gudang, it has become imperative to plant more trees in order to safeguard and restore the local environment and ecology. On the day of the event, 350 trees were successfully planted, and the remaining trees will be planted during the upcoming event.

During the program’s inauguration, YB Dato’ Asman Shah Bin Abd. Rahman, the Mayor of Pasir Gudang; Prof. Dr. Azmi Bin Aris, the director of the Research Institute for Sustainable Environment (RISE) at UTM; Mr. Eugene Cheang, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at CIMB Bank Berhad, Tuan Hj. Malik Bin Mohamad, Deputy Secretary of MBPG, and Prof. Dr. Kasturi Devi Kanniah, the Project leader, planted Nyatoh Taban Merah saplings as a symbolic gesture. Additionally, approximately 36 species, including forest trees, ornamental plants, and fruit trees, all approved by Mrs Zanariah Kadir, a landscape architect from MBPG, and Mrs Norsham Suhaina Yaakob, an arborist from FRIM, were planted across the Meridin East area.

One of the key objectives of the tree planting event was to actively involve the local community and CIMB staff in the process of tree planting. The event also aimed to educate the public on the importance of planting trees and, most importantly, how to maintain the newly planted trees to sustain them over a long period. The developer, Mah Sing Group, provided valuable support and participation in the event.

To accomplish our objectives of raising awareness among both students and the community regarding the significance of tree planting, we extended invitations to two esteemed speakers, namely Dr Kogila Vani Annammala from the Faculty of Civil Engineering at UTM and Mrs Norsham Suhaina Yaakob. Eight schools actively took part in this event, including Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Cahaya Masai, SK Cahaya Baru, SK Kopok, SK Kongkong, SK Taman Scientex, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Taman Scientex, SMK Kota Masai, and SMK Kota Masai 2.

Representatives from MBPG, Mr Eugene Cheang (CIMB Foundation), Mah Sing Group, Prof. Dr. Kasturi, Dr Hawani, Prof Dr Azmi Aris, Mrs Norsham (FRIM).


Awareness session with students conducted by Dr. Kogila Vani Annammala


School students during the tree planting process


Participation from CIMB Foundation.

At the event, we introduced the GeoTree mobile app, developed by Dr. Hawani Idris and her team from the TropicalMap Research Group. This app enables users to document tree inventories for maintenance and contribute to the geodatabase of Pasir Gudang Municipality. The GeoTree Mobile app is available on the Android Play Store, iOS App Store, and Huawei App Gallery. With this application, users can collect data on the biophysical characteristics of trees, such as their height, diameter at breast height, canopy, and geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude) of both newly planted and existing trees.

All the participants were trained on how to conduct tree inventories using GeoTrees so that they could keep a continuous check on the tree growth and upload the data to the server. The GeoTrees app records the geospatial data, which the public can access in real time through the server. The server’s website has an interactive map that displays the distribution of planted trees along with detailed information about each individual tree.

Newly planted tree.


YB Dato’ Asman Shah Bin Abd. Rahman registered the planted tree in the GeoTrees Mobile Apps

The trees have grown well and are thriving, fulfilling their crucial roles in absorbing carbon dioxide, generating oxygen, providing shade, and offering bird habitats. The data collected through the GeoTrees mobile app plays a significant role in assessing the trees’ ability to capture and store carbon. This initiative is vital in combating climate change. It helps purify polluted air, enhance cooling effects, alleviate urban heat island effects, reduce energy consumption, lower carbon emissions in urban areas, and increase property values.

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