Wednesday, 3 December 2008

USM's Eco Team a.k.a Eco-Busters

I recently sent an email inviting more than 20 lecturers to the UKM-USM Dialogue on sustainable campus. Only about 6 showed up. After lunch, I was left to hold the fort. I am not complaining. Everyone's busy. To top that, I am a mere "coordinator" sandwiched between a Dean (or Director) and a Deputy Dean/Director. Ah, the pecking order is such a powerful tool. I cannot "order" the Deans/Directors around of course - I have to rely on my persuasive powers and charm. I often have to wait patiently for things to happen. Take for instance my little effort to rehabilitate our two lakes on the main campus. I have been pursuing it for more than a year and everytime I ask about it, the response is "coming". But when the Vice-chancellor asked about it, it was wrapped up within three days. Again, I am not complaining. There must a very good reason why someone invented bureaucracy.

And then there's the Deputy Vice-Chancellors. If they say "jump", you don't ask "how high". Just reach for the sky. Sorry, lighten up.

Case in point. When the DVC for Research and Innovation called up about 30 experts for a workshop on Eco-systems, Landscape and Heritage over the weekend at the Batu Ferringhi Beach (28th -30th Nov), they not only showed up but stayed until the end, working until past 1 am and 3 am. Yes, you are reading that right. What more if the DVC said that "no one is going home" until she gets the plan for action. So Mashhor equated the DVC with the Iron Lady of England. Of course Asma was sporting about it. We actually had a lot of fun, the way academics know how to have fun - Listening to lectures! But these experts were so full of passion and love for their area of expertise you couldn't help being infected. And we learnt a lot.

The workshop in progress. If you notice the plastic bottles of water on the table, I have already "scolded" (nicely) the organisers. They promised that if they ever invite me to their workshop again, they will make sure that there will be no plastic bottles of water. I wanted to tell them "hey, you are still not getting it", but patience, they will eventually come around.

Here's the USM Eco Team at the conclusion of the workshop.

What's this thing about the Eco-Busters? Well, the DVC was having a hard time making decisions on projects related to eco and landscape and heritage buildings and didn't know who to call. You see a ghost, you call the ghost-busters, right? You have problem with termites and fungus and water monitors or pigeons and snakes, who do you call? The Eco-busters of course.

Out of this workshop, some ten projects have been suggested including documentation using state-of-the-art software, an Eco House near the Durian Valley, restoring a couple of heritage buildings, research and management of fungus in buildings, infestation and diseases on trees, and an Eco Trail with information on medicinal value of trees, ants moulds (yes, they give you an itch for a week but are vital to the eco-system), coffee table books and others.

Here's breaking news. USM will be rehabilitating the two lakes (Tasek Aman and Harapan) and the river (Sg Gambier) over the next nine months as part of the celebrations for our 40th Anniversary. One of our problems is how to deal with the huge water monitors (biawak). They are thriving because of the Tilapia fish in the ponds. And the Tilapia is thriving because no other fish can survive in the oxygen-deprived water in the lake. Got any bright ideas - on how to deal with the biawak or lake?

3 comments:

Michael Peter Foo said...

Hi Dr., going top-down does work when there is no respond when comments pass along the hierarchy. However, don't pursue this way too often. That my point of view.

CelluloSaT~ said...

Dr, i thk the biggest problem in USM is maintainance, if not, the lakes and the 'river' also will not become like that. Biawak should not be killed, I'm agreed with what Evan said, should relocate them. We also cant control the non-native species invasion, if they can do at the 1st time, after rehabilitating, those species will come back also.

I think the best way is relocating in ecological aspect. If kill the biawak because expensive costs, then USM's eco team is just a name, we will be teased by other institutes by killing biawak to create a ecological balance system.

hehe...just my 2 cents...

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