When Sime Darby Property Bhd embarked on a RM40 million renovation of the two golf courses at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) in 2008, the aim wasn’t just to create a championship course to host a prestigious golf tournament but also a course that’s environment-friendly. Renovation of the 18-hole West Course — where the Maybank Malaysian Open 2010 will be held in February — is already complete while work is currently underway at the 18-hole East Course.

It is at the East Course that the environmental initiatives have been planned for. This is part of the developer’s sustainability agenda — to be sustainable in everything that they do.

Maximising biodiversity is an integral part of these initiatives and includes, among others, the creation of native habitat areas throughout the course’s non-play areas; the planting of fruiting trees and shrubs to attract birds and animals; the creation of about 13,000 sq m of wetland shelves; and the introduction of native animals and birds.

KLGCC's Hole No.2 on the newly renovated West CourseTo realise these initiatives, Sime Darby Property is working with various parties to create a natural habitat for the smaller mammals, and with James Kingham of Tunas Harapan — a family-run nursery that is said to have one of the biggest collections of native trees in the country — to replace non-native tree species with native ones.

Particular attention is also being paid to information and education. There are also plans for a bird sanctuary in the wetlands area and the creation of nature trails for members to enjoy.

With these green initiatives, an application for the Audubon International certification under the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Programme for Golf Course is also underway. Said to be the gold standard in the golf industry, the Audubon International certification demonstrates a golf course’s environmental stewardship.

According to the Audubon International website, there are currently six golf courses in Asia (two in China, one in Singapore and three in the Philippines) that are Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries. To obtain certification, golf courses must look into six areas, namely, environmental planning; wildlife and habitat management; chemical use reduction and safety; water conservation; water quality management; and outreach and education.

Even for the golf course itself, particular attention has been paid on grass selection to minimise the use of chemicals. Indeed, by the looks of it, the East Course greens are getting greener.

This article appeared in City & Country Special Focus, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 760, June 22 - 28, 2009.