Monday, June 20, 2011

An Inspiring Short Story

This is an inspiring story of how young people are trying to make a difference in their community.

TrEES was approached by the Dhammaduta Youth group (D2Y) from the Buddhist Maha Vihara to help make this year’s Wesak Day more green.  Every year during this religious festival, over 20,000 devotees visit the temple in Brickfields.  And wherever big crowds gather, you can also expect a large amount of rubbish to follow. 

The D2Y wanted to prevent the waste generated during the festival from simply going to the landfill.   To keep the greening manageable, it was decided to focus on the rubbish generated, and that was a huge task in itself.

Also joining in the greening efforts was the organization Khatulistiwa.  With their Sampah Masyarkat programme, Khatulistiwa brought their knowledge and experience gained through their work during the Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves.

During the preparations leading up to the festival, volunteers at the temple were very cooperative in ensuring that all vegetable scraps from the food preparations were separated.  A bin to collect left over food waste was also put out at the volunteer’s eating area on Wesak day itself.  The food waste, together with the vegetable scraps were sent to a local organic farm for composting, after the festival began to wind down.

Most of the carton boxes used for the delivery of goods, including candles and drinks, were kept aside for the recycling efforts.  The used oil from cooking as well as oil used for the oil lamps were collected and stored in drums.  The oil was later sent for reprocessing into biodiesel.

Dealing with the public is not an easy task.  But we were very pleased to see the cooperation and willingness to participate from people of all ages.  For the public that was unfamiliar with recycling, D2Y volunteers were stationed at each set of recycling-rubbish bins, to help the public put the proper item into the proper bin.

With the close of the festival, over 3 lorry loads consisting of plastic bottles, tetrapak, carton boxes, oil and organic waste was saved from the landfill and sent for better use through recycling and composting.   TrEES looks forward to working with the D2Y youth in this greening challenge again next year!

Every time we reduce, re-use and recycle our waste, we are helping to protect Taman Negeri Selangor and the environment in general.  By saving valuable resources and reducing the filling of landfills, we help to protect our forests and other natural areas.

Do YOU have an inspiring story to share?  Send us an email at

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Steep Terrain of the Park Must be Taken Seriously

Last month, there was a lot in the papers about the tragedy in Hulu Langat, due to another series of landslides (two landslides occurred simultaneously), that claimed 16 lives, many of them young boys living at the al-Taqwa orphanage.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who died, to the families who remain, and to all those who are suffering as a result of the tragedy. 

This tragedy raises several concerns, many of them are not new…

From information gathered in the newspapers an estimated 58 housing estates in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor situated in hilly areas face the risk of landslides, based on a Public Works Department (PWD) study last year, in 2010. 

According to the papers, the study shows that all 58 housing estates are situated within four local council areas, namely Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ), Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) and Selayang Municipal Council (MPS).

The highest number of areas at risk, 39, are listed under MPAJ.  Among the areas sited as highest risk include Bukit Antarabangsa, Taman Melawati, Kampung Pasir, Taman Wangsa Ukay, Ukay Heights, Ukay Perdana, Kampung Tengah, Taman Keramat and Sering Ukay.

Based on the disappointing outcome of the Highland Tower court case, it was re-affirmed, in court, that the local councils cannot be held liable for any tragedy that may result from the council’s approvals of any development.

This is why so many of the residents in these areas are very concerned when new developments are proposed/constructed at the slopes behind or near to their existing homes.  This is another reason why so many residents are concerned about the alignment of the KL Outer Ring Road as well - the dangers the highway itself may create, and the urban development that will surely follow the highway.  The highway will be passing through the MPAJ area.  The alignment of the proposed highway is near or adjoining areas with the highest number of developments at risk for future landslides including Bukit Antarabangsa and Taman Melawati , as stated in the Public Works study.  Knowing the dangers of the area, why is the federal government still planning a highway here?  And who will be responsible if there are future tragedies due to the highway?

Another point of concern is that the al-Taqwa orphanage was built without approval from authorities.  At the time it was built, about 15 years ago, there were no requirements to apply for building approvals, as the structure was built on agricultural land. 

Have the laws and requirements been amended so that approval required today?  Most of the very steep and loose terrain that forms the foot-slopes of the Klang Gates area is still classified as agricultural land, with many single title land owners. 

Given the hazardous terrain, the fact that the Ridge is now gazetted as part of the Selangor State Park and has been (somewhat) recognised as a geological wonder, is MPAJ or other state authorities keeping an eye on developments the area?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vatica yeechongii

Vatica yeechongii

A rare dipterocarp, adapted to growing near streamsides.  Vatica yeechongii  is a recent discovery to science, identified only in 2002.  This recent discovery reflects the immense richness and uniqueness of the forests in the Park.

The Vatica yeechongii is a species of the dipterocarpaceae family of towering timber trees. The Vatica genus is known locally as resak and includes some lucrative, huge, hardwood tree species.  

Vatica yeechongii , however, is a medium-sized understorey tree, growing to a diameter of 13cm and a height of 15m tall, and is hardly of any commercial timber value.  It looks very different from the rest of the Vatica, as the leaves are very big.

It is suspected that the V. yeechongii seeds are scattered by water. This is because the trees have been observed only near rivers and the seeds are surrounded by small petals which are not conducive for wind dispersal.  

V. yeechongii was also recently found in the Setul Forest Reserve in Negri Sembilan. The species has a very restricted distribution and small population – there are less than 30 in Sungai Lalang and 100 in Setul – reflects the species’ rarity.  This places the species at risk.

In the words of Dr. Saw Leng Guan, who discovered the species.. " The fact that a new species was discovered in this current era of diminishing forest areas merely shows that we do not know enough about our plant diversity and that long-term field observations are necessary. "

On your next weekend break, make it a mini-adventure.  Take a drive to Sg. Tekala Recreational Forest, Taman Negeri Selangor, and look out for this unique and rare tree species!

For more information, please visit: