Sunday 14 Jul 2024
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This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on July 17, 2023 - July 23, 2023

The slight whiff of the sea breeze made me think for a moment that I was at the beach, but this was not the case, as I was in Setia Bayuemas Lake Park. This 10.25-acre park is situated in the ongoing development of Setia Bayuemas, a 545-acre freehold mixed-deve­lopment in Southern Klang.

This centrepiece of Setia Bayuemas is a community park that allows residents to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the plants in the park. A careful study was done to rehabilitate the land surrounding the lake and ensure that the right plants were brought in.

These efforts have impressed the judges, who named the park the Gold winner in the Landscape Planning category of The Edge Malaysia-ILAM Sustainable Landscape Awards, a feature of The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards 2023.

“For us at Setia Bayuemas, it is an achievement. It has put us up there in acknowledgement of what we have pushed for and achieved so far,” says S P Setia Bhd senior executive vice-president Datuk Yuslina Mohd Yunus.

“We have [also] turned a retention pond into what you see right now. Three years ago, you would not have seen what you see today. This park is something that we believe we have contributed to the community in this area.”

Setia Bayuemas Lake Park is a 10.25-acre public park. The former retention pond has been transformed into a vibrant community space.

A place for nature and outdoor activities

Yuslina explains that the park was built for placemaking, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, when people started to appreciate their health, nature and being out of the house more.

S P Setia divisional general manager Razly

Yuslina and S P Setia chief operating officer Datuk Zaini Yusoff (third and fourth from left) with (from left) The Edge Malaysia editor-in-chief Kathy Fong, The Edge Malaysia editor emeritus and the awards’ chief judge Au Foong Yee, Minister of Local Government Development Nga Kor Ming, The Edge Media Group publisher and group CEO Datuk Ho Kay Tat and City & Country editor E Jacqui Chan. (Photo by Mohd Izwan Mohd Nazam/The Edge)
With the placemaking park, S P Setia believes it has achieved its objective of encouraging people to go out and enjoy the outdoors. (Photo by S P Setia)

Mohammad Rus concurs: “Five years back, this area was a bit sleepy and needed a boost. So, this park is not only a place for communal gathering but also for placemaking. It also offers the community a place that can be used as a recreational centre.

“This is also a multi-purpose park, where we aim to educate the community about the importance of nature and sustainability. This park also enhances the economic and property values of the area.”

Respecting the land

Coming up with the idea for a park that would draw people was the first step. Actualising it was the next, and that came with several challenges.

S P Setia senior manager landscape of Setia Bayu­emas Mohd Nizam Duaji explains: “We engaged an ecologist because the area has been there for quite some time. So, we needed to study what was happening and what existed in the area. We didn’t want to destroy everything during the construction of the park. We took into account all the input from the ecologist; then, along with the landscape architect, we planned from there.

“Whatever we place in the park is according to the ecological point of view. That is why we have developed certain areas as a fish hatchery, where we breed the fish before we release them into the lake. We also placed a tree trunk in the lake for migratory birds to rest,” he says, adding that the lake was originally filled with water plants, which didn’t allow much space for fish to breed.

The fountain operates only at certain times of the day, saving on energy while aerating the lake. (Photo by Shahrill Basri/The Edge)
The Melaleuca Deck provides a comfortable spot for visitors to enjoy views of the lake and fountain as well as the breeze. (Photo by Shahrill Basri/The Edge)

Razly chimes in, saying: “Before we started, we did an inventory of the existing flora and fauna with the help of the ecologist.”

Nizam says a study of the quality of water showed that it had a unique quality that meant only certain types of fish species could survive in it. It was a mix of saltwater and freshwater, or brackish water, and it also reduced the breeding of mosquitoes.

Razly says baseline data from the study allows the developer to monitor the growth and progress of the park’s biodiversity.

Asked about their favourite spot in the park, Yuslina says: “It’s the walkout spot called Melaleuca

Birds are common visitors to the lake area, and the abundance of dragonflies indicates that the water quality of the lake is good

Deck because you can enjoy both the fountain and the breeze there. You get the breeze only in certain spots along the lake.”

Razly chooses the same spot as well, from which one can take in the view and enjoy the ambience with the breeze and shade.

Nizam says, “I like the area towards the end of the park where there is a shelter. You can view the full perspective of the park from there, which is the nearest point to the fountain. The area has special meaning for me because we managed to turn an unsightly area into one where people love to sit and relax.”

For safety purposes, lifebuoys are placed strategically around the lake

Secure and safe space

As this is a public space, ensuring residents feel secure and safe is paramount. Razly says: “We realised that this was a huge lake and posed certain issues with regard to safety. That is why we have lifebuoys at a few spots around the park in case of any untoward incidents. We are also aware that, because it is open to the public, there is an issue of security as well. So, we erected perimeter fencing around the park and provided security guards as well.”

Yuslina says that as more houses are built in the area and more people move in, the developer will add more lights to the park, which is open from 7am to 7pm, so that it will be even safer to use and be open for a longer period of time.

She says, “One of the challenges is striking a balance so that nature is not disturbed and we don’t have to spend so much maintaining it.”

The developer has installed tags identifying the plants and trees in the park

For now, S P Setia is paying for the maintenance of the park but when it is time to hand it over to the authorities, Yuslina says, it will be easy for them to maintain, as much thought has been put into the park to ensure it is practical and functional. Nizam is in close contact with the authorities to ensure they are able to continue with the maintenance of the park.

Says Nizam, “We practise sustainable landscape maintenance. For example, we did not throw away all the cut branches and grass clippings. The maintenance contractor collects everything and turns it into compost. So, we save costs in transporting the landscape waste.”

Razly adds: “One of the sustainable features in maintaining the park, which we will convey to MPK (Majlis Perbandaran Klang), is that we use water from the lake to water the plants. Also, the water quality has improved because of the aeration that we have done, so it can be used to water the plants.”

Setia Bayuemas Lake Park has come a long way from when it was just a retention pond. It has been transformed into a vibrant and engaged space today, which goes to show that working with nature results in a win for everyone.

(From left) Razly, Yuslina and Nizam are proud of how all the hard work to transform the park has borne fruit. (Photo by Shahrill Basri/The Edge)

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