This partnership, which began in 2006 and is currently in its second phase, recognises the importance of the wetlands for various ecosystem functions, including regulating water resources by absorbing excess water and controlling water flows during heavy rainfall, while releasing water slowly during dry periods.
"Our partnership with WWF-Malaysia fits harmoniously with our Creating Shared Value philosophy, which states that in order for us to create long-term value for our shareholders, we must also create value for the society and we focus in three areas, which are Nutrition, Water & Environment and Rural Development," said Puan Zainun Nur Abdul Rauf, Nestlé Executive Director of Human Resource and Group Corporate Affairs.
In 2007 Nestlé and WWF-Malaysia embarked on a capacity building project for the local women - who call themselves the Women's Society of Kg. Mangkok, Setiu (PEWANIS) - with further skills and knowledge to participate in sustainable development that will enhance their livelihoods, whist empowering them to spearhead conservation awareness activities.
Thus far, PEWANIS has carried out numerous low-impact, community-based nature tourism and cottage industry activities, which have not only benefited the wetlands but also provided them with additional income.
From January to May this year, six groups - local and international - have visited them to participate in PEWANIS' low-impact tourism programmes, where these groups are briefed on conservation issues and are encouraged to participate in conservation activities such as mangrove replanting, beach clean-up and learning about turtle conservation at the turtle hatchery. In addition to that, they are also given the opportunity to participate in cottage industry activities that are practised by the local communities, such as making Wau and banana chips.
"To date the Setiu Wetlands has been rejuvenated with the planting of mangrove seedlings, while turtle and environment conservation is at an all time high amongst the local communities. It's great to see the positive responses by the groups to the conservation efforts spearheaded by PEWANIS. These ladies represent a long-term, sustainable solution for conserving local natural resources while improving the livelihoods of their communities," Puan Zainun added.
As part of PEWANIS' efforts to involve and engage local communities to increase conservation awareness, 26 members of Nestlé Reaching Out To Community (ROCKS) - a Nestlé employee volunteer programme - and members of the Terengganu Police Contingent, took part in mangrove replanting and beach clean-up activities at Kuala Baru, Terengganu today.