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Environmental Science At Plymouth we are determined to train students to do something to stop the destruction of our planet. Our interdisciplinary course,

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Presentation on theme: "Environmental Science At Plymouth we are determined to train students to do something to stop the destruction of our planet. Our interdisciplinary course,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmental Science At Plymouth we are determined to train students to do something to stop the destruction of our planet. Our interdisciplinary course, ranked Excellent for the quality of its teaching, has been formally recognised as being one of the best in the country by the only National Subject Centre for Environmental Science being located at Plymouth A key element of our approach is the use of fieldwork to illustrate the points made in the lecture theatre. Our students regularly go out into the field in the UK, but we also believe that fieldwork has to acknowledge the international dimension of environmental problems; which is why we take our students abroad for their residential field course.

2 Malaysia This brief presentation shows just some of the places & images we encountered on our recent field course in Malaysia. Every student on the trip agrees that visiting Malaysia has transformed their understanding of the environment & has stimulated them into exploring more of the tropics as well as the rest of the world. Why not join us & experience the tropics for yourself? Coconut palms at dusk Exotic tropical fruits Making traditional Malay kites

3 SE Asia Malaysia straddles the Kra Peninsula & the north coast of Borneo We explore sites on the peninsula We are working only a few hundred km from the equator, so conditions are hot & humid Left: the very essence of the tropics: coconut palms swaying in a warm evening breeze

4 Malaysia Malaysia contains some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth, many of which have yet to be explored by science. Can the country develop yet still keep its environment intact? These are some of the issues we will explore.. Upper Dipterocarp rainforest. 1500m in the Main Range Banjaran Titiwangsa

5 Malaysia Peninsular Malaysia still contains significant areas of primary rainforest – dark green on the map; but Malaysia wants to achieve developed country status by 2020. The light green areas (agriculture, plantations & other agroecosystems) & the yellow areas (urban & industrial developments) bear testimony to the rate at which they are pushing towards this target Under half the original forest remains compared with less than 100 years ago

6 Malaysia The worlds largest flower, Rafflesia (right) grows parasitically on the roots of a forest vine. How much longer will this species survive in the face of relentless exploitation of the rainforest? Forest conservation is just one of many issues that students on the field trip will consider The flower of some species of Rafflesia can reach one metre across

7 Malaysia Before going to Malaysia, our students visit the tropical biome at the Eden Project to familiarise themselves with what they will see & experience in the tropics. The Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall. Just 45 minutes from the university

8 Residential Field Course Malaysia Selamat datang! (welcome in Malay) The Gap Road, Selangor: leech socks catwalk!

9 Course objectives Experience one of the most biologically diverse countries on Earth Visit sites of unique interest & scientific importance Sample a country that blends several Asian cultures Work hard in trying conditions – it is hot, humid & you need to be continually vigilant about mosquitoes, leeches, dehydration & your diet But, above all, ENJOY & EXPERIENCE THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME! A student posing as Tarzan on a woody liana (Entada spiralis). These incredible climbers, locally known as monkey ladders, start off on the forest floor & then climb up to the canopy for light – some 50m above. They are strong enough to swing on & if cut can provide pure water to drink

10 Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia & where the course begins Above: the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, completed by the British in 1897. Top right: Merdeka Square, where independence from the British was sealed. Bottom right: the state mosque at Shah Alam

11 Kuala Lumpur Petronas Twin towers. The worlds tallest building Market famous for its fake watches Masjid Jamek the first mosque Night skylineIslamic architecture Durians in Chinatown

12 Kuala Lumpur Left, typical pre-war shop-house selling unusual commodities; right: student looking to the future with a visit to a Chinese fortune-teller Will I pass my exams?

13 Kuala Lumpur Malay schoolgirls pose with three of our students. The Malays are amongst the friendliest people on earth & love to talk to westerners. Right: they recommend green coconut milk to our students to slake their thirst Green coconuts provide a cool, refreshing, delicious drink – which also comes in a sterile container. They cost ~15 pence each!

14 Kuala Lumpur Panoramic views from the Menara Telekom reveal the regional geomorphology

15 Batu Caves A tower karst limestone outcrop to the north of KL – a religious shrine & a site of major scientific importance

16 Batu Caves Hindu Gods greet the faithful at the entrance to the caves Right: the negative face of tourism. A long-tailed macaque joins the consumer society

17 Batu Caves We go inside the cave system–with thousands of cockroaches for company Exit from the Dark CaveMillions of cockroaches feed off the bat guano

18 Batu Caves Snakes, scorpions, spiders, bats & strange predators are everywhere. Many of these organisms occur only in Batu Caves & nowhere else in the world; yet the site contains a quarry! Scutigera a carnivorous mitripede approx 15cm longCaveracer snake, length 1.5m, digesting a meal Thousands of bats live within the caves Cave toads Bufo asper are quite big

19 Klang Gates Ridge The worlds longest quartz ridge at ~17km, provides unique habitats & is home to rare & endemic plant & animal species, yet development (bottom right) is destroying habitats on this site We have special permission to climb the ridge to observe the unique flora & decide for ourselves how best the site should be managed

20 Klang Gates Ridge Left: spectacular views of the ridge. Top right we halt half way up the climb, which is exhausting. Bottom right this endemic plant, a member of the coffee genus, is found nowhere else in the world

21 Rubber Research Institute The worlds premier research station for rubber established by the British (1920s) in the middle of the rainforest. 1.5 million ha of Malaysia are covered by rubber plantations. What are the consequences? Latex oozing from a tapped rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis Rubber plantation, Sungai Buloh

22 Rubber Research Institute Various techniques are demonstrated. Malaysia was once the top exporter of natural rubber Grafting techniques for propogation Ethylene injection into the trunk to increase latex flow

23 Rubber Research Institute The whole process from planting to the end product is examined, as well as visiting the stations museum. It surprised us to see a picture of Plymouths famous Royal Albert Bridge 10,000km away in the heart of Malaysia! Top left: latex looks like milk; top right: pure rubber ready for export to China

24 Palm Oil Research Institute The development of Malaysias most important cash crop is reviewed at this world-class research institute & resident scientists discuss the environmental consequences of oil palm plantations with us. Millions of hectares are covered in oil palm & Malaysia plans to clear yet more land to increase production Oil palm fruits: the source of Malaysias recent wealth Traditional method of oil extraction, Africa

25 Palm Oil Over 2.5 million ha are covered in plantations (right). Malaysias glittering new international airports roof (above) represents palm fronds in recognition of the importance of palm oil to the nations economy. We are shown a car that runs on a palm oil mix with diesel (top right). Is this the biofuel of the future, from sustainable plantations? We debate the pros & cons with PORIMs experts Monocultural stand of Elaeis guineensis, the oil palm. Origin: West Africa Emissions are lower than from petrol

26 Tin The presence of commercially viable quantities of tin attracted the attention of the British in the nineteenth century. The British subsequently added Malaya to the British Empire and introduced mechanisation to the local tin industry. Malaysia soon became one of the worlds leading exporters of tin. However, the industry is now in decline, leaving behind a legacy of abandoned workings & derelict land. Top: tin ingots. Bottom: pewter, an alloy containing tin.

27 Tin The early economic success of Malaysia was based around alluvial tin deposits. These were worked by the British using floating dredges (top right: the last working dredge in the world, visited by students). Novel reclamation schemes (top left) transform formerly derelict sites (e.g. right) into modern money spinners A theme park built on a former tin mine site Denkil tin dredge Kinta Valley

28 Paya Indah This former tin dredging site has been converted into Malaysias only Wetland Conservation Centre. Peat swamp forests are vulnerable to clearance (above) and replacement with crops, such as oil palm. We learn how vital such forests are not just nationally but even globally-bottom left: devastating fires can even be seen from space Students in a peat swamp forest recently subjected to fire Mechanisation means that areas can be quickly cleared Smoke from Sumatra covering Malaysia Image courtesy of Google Earth

29 Paya Indah Peat swamp forests are biologically-unique sites that need protection e.g. they are home to the attractive lipstick palm (left) now used in ornamental displays around the world. Above: pangolins (anteaters) are protected by law, but are prized for their meat by locals. Terrapins (left) can also find themselves on the menu. Cyrtostachys renda Manis javania Exotic epiphytic fern

30 Putrajaya & Cyberjaya Malaysia is creating two new cities to the south west of Kuala Lumpur: Putrajaya, that will house all government departments & Cyberjaya an intelligent city based around the worlds largest fibre optic system. We question this relentless expansionist policy The Prime Ministers Office & the mosque

31 Kuala Selangor Mangrove swamp on the Straits of Melakka – which we traverse. The going is slow & very sticky underfoot! Right: a palm seed, brought in on the tide, beginning to germinate Mangrove conservation area

32 Kuala Selangor A baby silvered leaf monkey (right) joined our trek. He took a liking to bourbon biscuits! A new boardwalk provides access for the first few hundred metres, but then its into the mud to reach the sea. Presbytis cristata

33 Kuala Selangor Interesting & unusual fauna such as the mudskipper above only occur in mangrove forests. Dozens of species of brightly-coloured crabs compete for food on each incoming tide Periophthalmodon schlosseri. Mudskippers can walk & even climb trees! Telescopium spp. Uca spp

34 Kuala Selangor Left: Mudskippers about to mate. Beauty certainly is in the eye of the beholder! Right: lizard hunting crabs

35 Kuala Selangor Strange root & seed adaptations to these saline & anaerobic environments Right: a student exploring the soil! Knee roots on Brugeria that allow the tree to breathe Prop roots on Rhizophora make progress difficult Vivipary in rhizophora

36 Kuala Selangor Silvered leaf monkeys, monitor lizards, hornets nests & interesting molluscs are a common sight. Fortunately, salt-water crocodiles are rare! Varanus salvator

37 Fireflies Sungei Selangor We go out onto the river at night to observe fireflies (actually beetles) that occur only in this estuary & one other place in the world. Right: students relax in a riverside restaurant whilst waiting for the sun to go down Fishing village, Bagan TengkorakPasir Penambang

38 Fireflies Sungei Selangor Out on punts after dark to observe rare communities of fireflies (left) which congregate in the mangroves lining the estuary. Developments upstream are threatening the future existence of these organisms. Kampong Kuantan Sungai Selangor at dusk Pteroptyx spp

39 Genting Highlands We take the cable car to 1500m to see how hill development can damage these fragile environments Pristine rainforest has been cleared to make a highland playground for the residents of Kuala Lumpur; but at what environmental cost?

40 Genting Highlands Clearing of hill forest has negative impacts upon the ecology, hydrology, meteorology & stability of mountain ranges. We appraise whether this particular hill development has taken account of such factors, or whether money rules Clearance leads to landslides Rainfall patterns change Atmospheric temperatures rise

41 Main Range We climb steadily through granite & basalt hills, stopping to walk along mountain streams and explore virgin rain forest. Right: a landslide halts our progress Bamboo orchid Looking for snakes & lizards Flowering ginger Road from Bentong to Gap Unresearched rainforest

42 Main Range The Main Range is covered in pristine rainforest, but is also geologically very interesting. Weathered granites can be broken by hand! Top right: we are dwarfed by the giant forest trees Right: students negotiate a jungle bridge spanning a river that marks the boundary between two continents that were once thousands of kilometres apart. Granite, 100 million years younger than that found on Dartmoor, crumbles in a students hand Crested lizard

43 Frasers Hill Virgin rainforest at 1500 metres. Students follow trails out into the forest to research this pristine environment for themselves Much of this forest has never been fully researched & is the last refuge for Malaysias dwindling population of tigers. How much longer will this area remain undisturbed? Night walks through these hills revealed brilliant displays of bioluminescence with fireflies & luminescent fungi stunning us with their beauty Ranges that have never been scientifically explored

44 Frasers Hill Views from the hotel. Virgin rainforest stretches hundreds of kilometres north to the Thai border

45 Frasers Hill Insectivorous pitcher plants, exotic ground gingers & wild banana are just some of the rare plants found here. Stick insects are common. Rare birds abound Musa spp Hornbill Etlingera sp Stick insects are difficult to spot! Nepenthes gracilis

46 Frasers Hill Students spend time both day & night out in the forest studying flora & fauna, soils & the gross geology Bishops Trail Centipede, length 25cm Harmless! Last chance for the Asian tiger: development here could spell the end for the big cats Cicada, length 12cm

47 Frasers Hill Spiders, forest tortoises, large moths & soldier ants abound Trapdoor spider Lyssa zampa wingspan 20cm Liphistius malayensis

48 Frasers Hill After several days at Frasers Hill, the journey down to Kuala Lumpur takes in the Sungei Selangor dam: hundreds of hectares of primary rainforest were felled to make way for a dam that will not meet the regional demand for water beyond 2007! We question why it was built & learn more about the politics of logging Forest cleared prior to flooding Reservoir beginning to fill Students & WWF Malaysia staff

49 Elephant Conservation Centre There are less than 1000 elephants left in Malaysia. This centre is trying to conserve them but they face many problems. Students help wash the elephants & question why Malaysia is indifferent to the survival of these animals. Kuala Gandah

50 Forest Research Institute A research station based in lowland Dipterocarp rainforest. There is so much to see & learn. Buttress roots, canopy shyness, gingers & lizards. The sound of cicadas can be deafening & the barks of gibbons pierce the forest air Zingiber spectabilis Mabuya multifasciata The trees seem to sense their neighbours Butresses not only support the tree but are also involved with nutrient uptake

51 Forest Research Institute Leeches are endemic to SE Asia. They are little more than a nuisance, causing no pain or infection. Dont touch me Im poisonous! Shy forest deer Silvered leaf monkey babies have orange fur

52 Forest Research Institute Monitor lizard (2m long), python (caught trying to steal chickens!), & honey-bee hive entrance made of wax. Just a fraction of the rich & exotic fauna on view

53 Forest Research Institute Left: caterpillars demolishing a fern leaf. Top: Selaginella wildenovii a club moss that changes colour in the breeze on the shady forest floor

54 Forest Research Institute The canopy walkway – in the dry & the wet. Our chance to study the very roof of the forest

55 Forest Research Institute A night walk added another dimension to our knowledge of this site & traversing the canopy walkway in the dark was certainly an interesting experience! Above: students looking for scorpions, which are night hunters

56 Project days Several days are devoted to project work, followed by half-day seminar presentations. Above: students digging soil pits at FRIM. Projects are carried out irrespective of the weather!

57 Project days Durian (left) which reputedly smells like drains & is even banned in hotels! Does birds nest drink take the taste away ? Winners of the best seminar presentation are encouraged to sample the king of fruits i.e. Its popularity may be due to its reputation as an aphrodisiac!

58 Project days We relax in a Malay restaurant after the project presentations. Students take part in the entertainment. Top: Malay wedding ceremony. Bottom: not sure what this is about! Right: student demonstrating the versatility of the sari will you marry me?

59 Conclusion Working in the tropics is exhausting - but you do make friends!

60 Your next step JN Bull, School of Earth, Ocean & Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, PL4 8AA Tel: 01752 232987 Fax: 01752 232406 Mobile: 07740 651527 Email: If you would rather see a monkey in a forest than in a zoo, then why not talk to me about joining one of the best Environmental Science courses in the UK! Terimah kasih (thank you) for looking at this short presentation of just one aspect of the exciting Environmental Science course we offer at Plymouth

61 Environmental Science Our campus is just five minutes from the sea We offer diving & the underwater environment as a second year module & we are planning overseas field courses that will incorporate diving in the future Future destinations under consideration include China, Africa & islands in the Indian Ocean Sutton Harbour, from where the Pilgrim Fathers sailed for America, with the campus in the background Campus Halls of Residence

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