Panthers of ISKL #3 - Izyan the Agriculturalist and Landscape Artist
This week Panther People caught up with Izyan Nadirah, who has worked in ISKL since April 2016 as the Fields and Grounds Manager at the Facilities and Maintenance Department. Here is her inspiring story of how her childhood directly influenced who she is today - as the person in charge of landscaping ISKL, to how she is preserving endangered plants and trees, and learnt how to create her own herbal medicines as a child when growing up in the village!
"When I was young, my parents (who worked in KL), arranged for me to live with my grandmother in a village in Negeri Sembilan. It was in a very remote area.
'To this day, we still have an orchard farm with all the different types of fruit trees, such as rambutan, langsat, jackfruit, and durian. Even though our family was big, we were able to be self-sufficient with our home-grown food, and sometimes used to sell some of the extra produce.
'I had the best memories as a child growing up in the village - we were free to do anything and everything as we were often by ourselves, and needed to be creative to have fun. So if you wanted to climb a tree, you just climbed!
'I also remember how we made herbal medicines with my grandmother to cure skin diseases and other ailments. We did this by using the leaves of the Gelenggang flower (Senna Alata) and putting it directly on the skin. Alternatively, wild mushrooms are also useful to eat to treat skin conditions.
'Anyways fast forward a few years, after completing my studies, I worked at the Putrajaya Equestrian Park (a polo club) under Perbadanan Putrajaya - taking care of its stables, horses, landscapes, and fields. I then joined a Singaporean company, where I worked as a consultant for golf course projects - mainly taking care of machinery, fertilizer, irrigation, and maintenance.
'Then I joined ISKL in 2016. When I first started working (in my previous job), it was very hands-on and it was all about applying knowledge to help others.
'My job here is to take care of all things green. 'Green' includes all things sustainable, as well as landscapes and plants. From daily maintenance to the playground, I take care of everything on the ground. For example, if new playground equipment needs to be replaced, I take care of it.
'What I love about working at ISKL is how during the construction period, the management set aside money just for the landscape - I appreciate that. And instead of a typical garden, we have this Ecological Garden where we keep several endangered and exotic tree species.
'For example, we have a Belian tree (Eusideroxylon zwageri), a protected species, and we needed permission from Sarawak to take that tree from there. Certain trees are also endangered, such as the Meranti Tembaga (Shorea leprosula) as well as Nyatoh Taban Merah (Palaquium gutta). They are all native trees to Malaysia and are all well known to be of high-quality timber.
'That's why in our jungles and forests, people harvest these trees for commercial purposes - and when they overharvest, the numbers are dramatically reduced, leading to deforestation.
'We plant all of these species for our young students here at ISKL for educational purposes; we want to increase biodiversity and plan to plant back the same amount of trees that we initially cut down to build this campus.
'I aim to publish a flora and fauna book that talks about the type of trees showcased here. I want to add more exotic species so that when agriculturalists or botanists come to visit, they will be impressed.
'With the ISKl campus covering over 26 acres, we just completed a new project where we planted 300 Eugenia trees, near the Ampang Hilir road fence, and worked with DBKL to plant more outside to create a natural 'fence hedge.'
'I am very proud that 'nature is coming back to us' - we have noticed a nest with eggs on our ISKL grounds, and our turtle has even laid an egg! Witnessing nature coming back and making ISKL their choice of habitat - that is what inspires me to work even harder.
'Some projects I have on the pipeline are working with the Elementary School students for their Earth Day Celebrations and also a plan to add more trees in ISKL - potentially 42 trees for each class.
The most exciting project so far was during the construction of the new ISKL campus and working with architects and contractors to 'greenify' the school. What inspires me is that when you design and create a green area, you see students use that for their education and hanging around those places.
'And with ISKL being a school, I found it interesting because here I feel like I am contributing back to society. When I have interns working with me, we teach them what we do. I can apply my knowledge and, in turn, share this with others."
We finally asked Izyan what does ISKL's slogan "Be All You Are" means to her.
"Be All You Are, to me, is where you can feel free to express and share what you like - be it your interests, dreams, and goals. For example, working at ISKL is a dream come true as I get to plant whatever tree I want to plant here (in terms of biodiversity and trees with value). We are lucky to be able to do so, and with the expanse of land here, we have plenty of flexibility to play around with".
Izyan Nadirah is a UPM (University Putra Malaysia) graduate, where she studied Agriculture. She is currently doing her Masters in Sustainability Landscape Management. Izyan has worked in ISKL since April 2016 as the Fields and Grounds Manager at the Facilities and Maintenance Department.