Tag Archives: limestone

The True Value of Limestone

Quarrying limestone is worth billions but how does that compare to the ecological, touristic, cultural and historical values of this ecosystem?

DRIVING on the North-South Highway to Batu Gajah, Perak from Kuala Lumpur brings back many childhood memories of my balik kampung ritual.

We would pass limestone hills topped by dipterocarp trees fighting for space at canopy level while the sun created shadows in the hills’ crevices.

These views always made me ask my mother, “Do you think dragons live in these hills and caves?”

(Photo: Perak’s limestone hills are valuable as a source of raw materials for construction but is that all they should be valued for? | Gunung Kanthan pic by Sakyamuni Caves Monastery) 

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Cement Matters in Climate Crisis

It is in virtually everything that is constructed but cement has a climate impact that needs addressing. 

CEMENT is a key material in construction. According to the UN, the cement industry is the fourth largest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter by fuel type after coal, oil and gas.

And Asia dominates as the emitter of industrial greenhouse gasses emissions from cement, iron and steel, reports the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2014).

But compared to fossil fuels, cement is not as widely known for its contribution to the climate crisis.

(Photo: From buildings to pavements, cement is everywhere around us. | Photo by SL Wong)

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Mapping Every Hill

Interviewed: Dr Liew Thor Seng, biologist [thorseng@ums.edu.my]

IF YOU don’t know where all the limestone hills are, how will you know which to protect, which to quarry? Moreover, if you want to protect them, which ones do you begin with?

Well, decision-makers now have at their fingertips, Malaysia’s most comprehensive database and map of limestone hills.

(Photo: Screen capture of the online gazetteer showing details of limestone outcrop of interest in Malaysia | Courtesy of Liew Thor Seng)

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When Invaders Move In On Batu Caves (And They Have)

From flowering plants to butterflies , invasive species are taking over Batu Caves. This alarming threat to the fragile limestone ecosystem needs addressing.

WE HAD trekked up Batu Caves for about 10 minutes when botanist Dr Ruth Kiew turned to me and asked, “Can you see the difference in the vegetation?”

“Between limestone and non-limestone vegetation, you mean?”

“Yes.”

I scanned the plants before me. This was pre-pandemic times and I had been researching limestone species from lists provided by Kiew.

(Photo: Invasive species threaten plants like the keladi (foreground), discovered only 2 years ago and found only on Batu Caves, says limestone specialist Ruth Kiew. ~ pic by SL Wong)

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Discoveries Support Urgent Protection for Batu Caves

[First posted: 2 December, 2020]

Scientists make new findings, not necessarily all good, in the iconic Batu Caves, confirming its status as a natural treasure.

FOR THE millions of tourists who thronged Batu Caves in pre-Covid-19 times, and even for the residents who live nearby, the limestone hill is known only for its colourful Hindu temple and the Thaipusam festival.

Overshadowed is the hill’s scientific importance. Batu Caves is actually the best-studied limestone hill in Southeast Asia with many valuable natural history characteristics which are threatened.

In fact, is there even anything of scientific value left to conserve? The answer is a resounding “yes” according to a recent scientific expedition.

(Photo: Collecting Epithema parvibracteatum, endemic to Batu Caves and critically endangered; Ruth Kiew is second from left; Nur Atiqah Abd Rahman is on the left. Pic by SL Wong)

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