Ian Teh/Panos Pictures

Setiu, Malaysia

The Sungai Ular (Snake River) running through a palm plantation in the Setiu wetland area. Palm plantations require enormous amounts of water resources, and this river has seen its water levels drop significantly in recent years according to Tengku Azam, a retired Setiu fisherman who runs a local wetland centre for children and who was instrumental in getting part of the wetlands designated a state park in 2018.

The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), currently under construction as a small part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, will cut through environmentally sensitive peat and wetland areas in Setiu District. The Chinese and Malaysian governments claim its economic benefits outweigh the environmental impacts, which they say will be minimal, but opponents of the scheme fear it will do damage to the east coast wetland's complex ecology.

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Ian Teh/Panos Pictures
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5000 x 3333 pixels
42.33 x 28.22 cm (300 dpi)
16.67 x 11.11 inch (300 dpi)
7.6 MB size on disk
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