Creating a community of forest protectors
28 May 2016 – The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) recently kicked off an initiative to continue protecting one of Kuala Lumpur’s remaining green lungs by getting relevant communities and stakeholders in on the action. The Urban Community Forest (UCF) initiative seeks to protect Bukit Persekutuan, or Federal Hill, from being exploited for development and prevent its low-density, institutional status from being irrevocable changed.
Towards that end, the MNS Conservation Division conducted an introductory briefing on Saturday, 28th May, at the Society’s HQ, which is just off Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar (previously Mahameru) and part of the 18-acre Bukit Persekutuan green lung. Attendees included MNS Honorary Secretary Stephanie Bacon, Board of Trustees Chairman John Koh & board member Chris Boyd, and residents and fans of Federal Hill. The session comprised an introduction by Koh, who spoke of MNS’s efforts, alongside Badan Warisan Malaysia in 2007, to protect Bukit Persekutuan as well as the hill’s ecological and cultural heritage; a briefing on biodiversity findings from that period and UCF’s objectives and scope, by MNS’s Sonny Wong, who is the project coordinator; and a round-up by Balu Perumal, MNS Head of Conservation and project manager.
The takeaway is that Federal Hill, bordered by heavily built-up areas, especially KL Sentral/Brickfields, Bangsar and Damansara, and once a continuous part of the green lung of the Lake Gardens, is facing serious threat – from development, public apathy and dilapidation of its heritage buildings. The area is already seeing keen interest and its protection cannot be left completely in the hands of the authorities, the attendees heard. Therefore the initiative, by MNS and Think City, a non-profit outfit under Khazanah, seeks to create a sustainable, community-based management plan that will champion the protection of Bukit Persekutuan. The first step involves dialogue with residents and stakeholders, the creation of a nursery for enrichment planting and as an educational centre, and improvement to the existing nature trail running alongside the MNS HQ. Further plans include marking out more nature trails in forested areas, conducting biodiversity surveys and creating a strong management plan for the long-term sustainability of the Bukit Persekutuan Urban Community Forest.
The attendees also gave ideas and discussed ways to create awareness about this initiative, and these included reaching out to the local MP, organising groups to walk and tour the hill, promoting its cultural heritage and creating a welcome area for the public so that they can explore the forest in their free time.
The Bukit Persekutuan Urban Community Forest initiative is serviced by a website, http://www.ucfnetworkbukitpersekutuan.wordpress.com, and a Facebook page, MNS Urban Community Forest. Those interested to see the progress of the nursery and nature trail, or to volunteer their time for the cause, can also visit the MNS HQ to speak to Balu Perumal or Sonny Wong, on weekdays from 10am to 4pm.
(Like us on facebook under ‘MNS Urban Community Forest’ for activities announcements. )