Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Green Publicity Stunts May Threaten Ecology


SP Setia’s World Environment Day 2008 Celebrations
(Photo reproduced without permission from The Star, but in accordance with the principles of fair use)

While we should be sparing with our criticism of corporations that carry out token ‘green’ programmes in conjunction with World Environment Day on grounds that every action makes a difference, SP Setia’s act of releasing birds and butterflies at their construction site must have alarmed nature-lovers (“Stopping Work for Environs” June 6, 2008).

If the birds and butterflies had been captive-bred or purchased from pet retailers, SP Setia could have indirectly fuelled the illegal pet trade and the practice of trapping wild birds and insects. In addition, store-bought and captive-bred fauna are often unable to fend for themselves in an inhospitable new environment and die seeking food and shelter or fleeing from predators.

Whether the birds were store-bought caged birds or part of a free population trapped and transported from another location, the release of large numbers of birds could draw predators such as feral cats to the area.

Alternatively, introduced birds and other fauna or flora could multiply, compete with local populations for food and water, decimate local vegetation or spread disease.

The photo featured shows what appears to be rock or feral pigeons (Columba Livia) being released. Although a good bio-indicator, the Columba Livia is often considered a nuisance for its fouling of buildings and grain with its droppings and for spreading pathogens to humans and other animals.

I presume SP Setia’s act of releasing the birds was part of their campaign to repopulate their construction site in Sg. Ara with birds and butterflies. If that is the case, the best way to attract birds and butterflies is by planting local fruiting and flowering trees and maintaining good air and water quality in the designated area. Most types of fruiting Ficus plants are ideal in supplying bird, bat and insect populations with food.

Still, SP Setia is to be commended for their efforts in planting trees and creating awareness in their employees on the importance of good indoor air quality, recycling, fuel economy and energy efficiency. Perhaps they could further aim to decrease their energy, fuel and water consumption and reduce the amount of construction waste generated, and provide rewards and incentives for their employees when certain targets are met. I am positive there are many local non-governmental environmental organisations that are only too happy to assist corporations in taking practical measures to reduce their environmental footprint.


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