I went to the Malaysia International Landscape and Garden Festival last weekend. It was very disappointing as the quality of the displays was poor and certainly not up to international standards. I couldn't believe some of the so-called landscaping displays - like the one I have pictured above (this was not the worst - see the workshop for an even more ghastly display). Perhaps some Malaysians might like to 'landscape' their gardens with plastic flowers and animals, but this doesn't fall within my definition of landscaping.
This display did get me thinking though. I had just finished reading that morning’s local paper in which it was reported that Sabah’s Malua and Ulu Segama forest reserves, which had previously been earmarked as Malaysia’s biodiversity gift to the world by the end of 2007, are set to be logged in a month or two. The state-owned Yayasan Sabah had just appointed three companies to log the reserves which are home to sun bears, gibbons, Borneo pigmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos and orang utans.
I couldn’t believe that one arm of the government had decided to bequeath these reserves for the benefit of future generations, and then another decides to issue logging permits. It seems like the right arm doesn't know what the left arm is doing.
Over the border in the Indonesia, things are even worse. The International Herald Tribune recently reported that China had placed a US$1 billion rush order for 28 million cubic feet of an expensive hardwood called merbau for use in the construction of facilities for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Merbau - also known as Borneo Teak - comes from a lowland rainforest tree which has been exploited so intensively around the world that only a few sizeable natural stands remain in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The order from China will involve chopping down 4.5 million acres of the remaining forest. A Borneo village elder was quoted in the story as saying “Wood is gold.” But then added, matter-of-factly: “In 30 years the forest will all be gone.”
I recalled what the world-renowned Canadian environmentalist, David Suzuki, said in a speech to a conference on the environment in Kuching last November. He said that in 1932, 95% of Sumatra was covered in forest, but today it is only 5%, and Borneo was heading the same way. He told the conference that the present generation had used more of the world's natural resources than any other generation in mankind's history. “We are leaving nothing for our grandchildren,” he remarked. David Suzuki said future generations would look back on this generation and ask why we were so selfish. Why did we use up so much of the world's resources in one generation? Why did we leave nothing for the future?
So maybe this is the landscape of the future. No more forests or fauna - just plastic trees and animals to remind us of what the world once looked like. At least it’s more colourful than the rainforest - and there are no pesky leaves to sweep up.
Critiques | Translate
chaity (1539) 2006-07-23 8:27
Hi David, you are back in Malaysia. I like the colors and sharpness of the photo. Really sad to see some were displaying these artificial items. Even with electrical wires running around.
Our G here is getting from bad to worse. I know who to choose in the coming election.
Lisas_world (1232) 2006-07-23 8:28
I agree, David, this is quite offensive, and I hope I'm gone well before it becomes the norm. The use of plastic, like every other 'great' invention, has been so sorely abused (witness: vinyl siding) that we have a whole generation which is virtually ignorant of natural beauty. Perhaps environmentalist groups should broadcast scenes like this as a scare tactic :)
Polonaise (5802) 2006-07-23 16:42
I can't help but to smile, while watching your photo.
What an ironic situation it represents. If NOT your note, this would be the most surprising photo coming from the person like you, my dear friend.
But the note explains everything… Well, almost everything.
You see David, there is only one material, other than plastic, that can be used instead. Guess, which one??
But of course…THE WOOD.
The same wood, that is our precious (yet scarce) source of beauty and usefulness, and our health, and the base of this planet' balance of nature.
Dilemma: Cut it or not to cut it?
Can you hear that demonic, sarcastic laughter deep inside rebellious me.
No solutions whatsoever available.
But there are some clues. And one of them is of my very authorship.
"Always listen to what those useful idiots green peaceniks have to say about environment, while ignoring them completely.
Never ignore the opinion of those useful idiots - green peaceniks. Just don't listen to them".
I'm one of them. The useful idiot of our times.
It's good to have you around, David.
Still, don't ask me please, for a library' address near by.
Have a great day, mate.
petsas (36) 2006-07-23 17:17
You keep telling it like it is. Only after soo many people tell the truth in what they see than only change can come about.
ps very nice colors
PJE (20758) 2006-07-23 22:53
Well David I have to be honest in my response to someone calling this landscape? I don't think so! It looks like some elementary school kids became creative with their outdoor craft projects. Colorful mind you but not what I want in my front of back or neighbours yard. The workshop is simply a pile of recycling...nothing more! Thanks for sharing David. It certainly shows a different mindset!
gaby (19819) 2006-07-24 2:32
David bonjour - I like your comment and I understand why you were so disapointed - the WS is amazing ??? - we have the same problem in west africa with the wood, this is a catastroph (sorry for my english, my friend)
May be the plastic landscape is the future ?
Have a nice week
rabani (9645) 2006-07-26 3:32
Welcome to the future David. It's not much but that's what left of it. And there's nothing left if you wanted more. Guess we have to make do with garish colored plastic thingies. As for the Malua and Ulu Segama reserves, I'm not even sure we have what you called a government. Let see now, a government is defined as a body of people who has been given the power and resources to look after and care, the present and future of the state/country it is installed in.
One day, Sabah is going to be one very big Easter Island.
feather (51130) 2006-07-26 9:57
David it doesn't bear thinking about; it's not just those countries that will suffer, but the whole planet. Scare resources are needed to make plastic too. If we want wood we will all have to make do with the faster growing softwood from managed forests.
This is a timely reminder if we needed it.
ChrisJ (107083) 2006-07-30 4:34
A very colorful & sharp image. Good to have included some children, in this obvious childrens environment. Tfs!
jinju (14265) 2006-08-01 3:34
First of all, youve been to a LOT of counties.
This seemingly snapshot has a lot of strange things to offer. The weird animals, the little kids, the strangeness of this situation. The note is really good, as George says, it explains a lot about your motivations for this shot
Graal (101104) 2006-08-02 2:47
pleasant view, rich palette of colours, funny and interesting a place, good note also. Well done photo.
rahul__rahul__ (2250) 2006-08-12 11:11
nice picture and interesting note too, I like the colors in this, the children walking is good too.
riclopes (35577) 2006-08-19 3:31
This is a very interesting article, along with an image of a non atractive, artificial environment. As you said, I'm quite sure that most malasyans and even "Asians" (I have this pre-concibed idea that, mainly chinese, are very kicth...) would apreciate these landscapes and the kids, certainly will.
With drugs, I will apreciate too and there are some very funny details to observe here and at night this must be "awesome". The big cats and the extra image in WS are just "lovely". The inclusion of the kids are a very good bonus, especially the decided older one.