Reclamation, a human activity that can transform an entire environment in a relatively short time, epitomizes one of the pinnacles of engineering achievement—creation of new landmass. As demonstrated by the construction of the Chek Lap Kok and Kansai airports in Hong Kong and Japan respectively, whole new islands can be created in this way and, in the process, landscapes, eco-systems and livelihoods could be altered. Considering the potential and major implications, reclamation projects call for a comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts ranging from the direct to the residual, and from the quantifiable to the intangible. Reclamation works have been carried out along Malaysia's coast since the 1950s but it was only in the 1990s that it has captured much public attention, and mostly, due to the conceptual proposals of several large scale reclamation plans along the coast of Peninsular Malaysia facing the Straits of Malacca.

This chapter describes the history of erosion control and reclamation works in Malaysia and discusses the initiatives carried out to address the problems they pose.

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