Cameron Highlands is a resort town located on the main mountain range of Peninsular Malaysia. It is a picturesque highland retreat with colonial styled bungalows cast against a backdrop of lush green forest and undulating slopes of terraced tea plantations. However, over the past two decades the rate of development has been especially rampant. While it has benefited the local economy, poor planning and enforcement have led to environmental degradation. Landslides, silted rivers and dams, constant water disruptions and poor water quality have become the norm.
R.E.A.C.H is a community based organisation formed in 2001 by a group of Cameron Highlands residents alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating environment especially the declining forests and water quality. R.E.A.C.H. aims to preserve, restore and maintain Cameron Highlands as an environmentally sustainable agriculture and hill resort within a permanent nature reserve. We strive to maintain a balance between environmental protection and development and to safeguard water catchment areas as a vital resource for the highlands and lowlands. It is now run by a group of volunteers with funds from membership, donations, small grants, reforestation activities and sales of souvenirs. Activities include highlighting environmental problems, creating public awareness on environmental issues and conducting water and forest biodiversity studies. Dendrobium brinchangense is the orchid shown in our R.E.A.C.H. logo. It is an endangered orchid first found in Gunung Brinchang and it reflects the fragile nature of our environment. In the course of carrying out our environmental activities we have faced many obstacles but we believe there are many people out there who care. We believe there is hope yet for Cameron Highlands. It is therefore of utmost importance that we preserve our natural heritage.
For updates on activities and latest notifications
8 June 2013 - Cameron Highlands environmental blueprint mooted
PETALING JAYA: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is studying the possibility of preparing an environmental blueprint for Cameron Highlands as a long-term initiative to combat the myriad of issues there.
It has also identified issues for immediate action, including water pollution resulting from illegal land clearing, highland farming without erosion and siltation control efforts, as well as breaching of permanent forest reserves and river reserves.
“Environmentally-sensitive areas will also be identified for conservation, as well as management of water catchment areas. The replanting of trees will also be implemented in time,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the blueprint would be done through the Department of Environment (DOE).
The blueprint will outline strategies for short, medium and long-term plans to ensure all development in Cameron Highlands will take into consideration its carrying capacity (the maximum population which can be supported indefinitely by an ecosystem without destroying it).
It said that all development would also follow the plans outlined by local and state authorities.
“The ministry as well as enforcement agencies will not hesitate to take stern action to stop illegal land clearing in state forests,” it said.
Action against illegal land clearing could be taken under the Land Conservation Act, it said.
It added that aerial surveillance would continue throughout the year over high-risk spots throughout the peninsula including over farming areas in Cameron Highlands.
The Star has highlighted rampant land clearing in areas in Cameron Highlands such as Blue Valley, 49 Mile, Menson Valley, Tanah Rata, Brinchang and Ringlet.
Environmentalists and locals have voiced alarm over water and land pollution woes there.
REACH Member's Get Together at the Bio-D Center in G.Brinchang
Written by cmarie
Sunday, 26 May 2013 16:14
Date : 4 June 2013
Time : 5 pm-10pm Venue : Bio D Research Center at G.Brinchang
REACH's members potluck in the sky (1800m) received good response from both the young and young at heart. The first few carpools departed from Tanah Rata at 4.30 p.m and we were glad that the roads to G.Brinchang had cleared of the tourist jam. The 4WD's parked at the foothill of the Reforestation Project site and transferred the food and bags to Mr.Kong's vehicle to transfer it to the top. The other members had to make the trek up the the steep slope on foot.
Along the way we were greeted by the distinct calls of the Fire-tufted Barbet and were very lucky to see this often heard but seldom spotted at close range bird. THe kids with me were of cause infected with the bird virus and now at least know the difference between the call of the Large-billed Crow and Fire-tufted Barbet.
The damp and misty weather did not dampen the spirits of those who had come.
The view from our vintage point was very breathtaking and the faraway look of admiration of the undulating hills albeit the scars of man has been captured here:)
The constant chatter and laughter of the boys sharing their own private jokes was also a good indicator of them enjoying each others company :)
The boyz contemplating if they were going to be follow me up to the peak as it was threatening to rain with thunder and lightning. But yet again I managed to convince them that the rains would hold till we got back down and it did:)
After our sumptuos spread of the potluck we trekked up to the peak of the Reforestation Plots to see the Cameron Highlands "night lights" even the thunder and lightning did not faze the young ones led up by Kali. It was an adventure as we trekked up through bush and slope with only a few shared torchlights.
The view from the top with the midst, breeze and light drizzle was new to some who had never been out at this elevation of 1800m at twilight. Upon decent we had a short exercise of breathing and relaxation and enjoyed the silence of the night . The smell of BBQ chicken broke the night air and with the ravenous appetite of the boyz the 5 packets of BBQ Chicken wings were quickly wolfed down.
Once the drizzle subsided we cleared up and headed back for the warm comfort of home. The gathering was a success as it brought together the young and young at heart the old and new committee members together. As we dropped of the younger members hoime the parting greetings was music to my ears ... Aunty Carrol we had a nice time when is our next outing:) So keep posted to our FB page and see you soon:)
The serious impact effects of persistent organic pollutants such as organochlorine pesticides,especially dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane family (DDTs) and hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs) have been causing widespread concern, despite effective control on their manufacturing, agricultural and vector practices. In that, in addition to the previous global limitations on DDTs usage, α-HCH, β-HCH and lindane have also became an on-going topic of global relevance based on the latest Stockholm Convention list on 10th of May 2009. Concentrations of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane family (DDTs) and hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs) were determined by GC-ECD in Cameron Highlands, the main vegetables and flowers farming area in Malaysia as an agricultural tropical environment. A total of 112 surface water and sediment samples at eight points were collected along the main rivers in the area namely Telom and Bertam in the dry and wet seasons of 2011.
It was reported that an organisation calling itself Regional Evironmental Awareness of Cameron Highlands (Reach) has drawn the attention of the Pahang menteri besar regarding the wanton destruction of the ecosystem in areas stretching from Lojing to Berinchang, Tanah Rata and Ringlet.
So far, disappointing as it may seem, the Pahang government has preferred to keep mum. Obviously the government is only looking at bringing in more revenue to its coffers.
An aerial view will be sufficient to convince us that the critical areas have gone bald and if everything goes unchecked, Cameron Highlands will soon take the appearance of a "moonscape". The felling of forest trees and indiscriminate cutting of hills could soon lead to erosion, landslips and pollution of rivers and streams.
To prevent further destruction of Cameron Highlands, I think action should be taken not only against the developers but also the authorities. This is the only way to halt the environmental degradation.
I think development in Cameron Highlands has reached saturation point. There are enough condominiums, hotels, chalets and vegatable farms to last a life time.
The authorities should not entertain new applications for housing projects or Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) to operate flower nurseries and vegetable farms.
Cameron Highlands should be preserved as a mountain resort -- a retreat for tourists from the lowlands to enjoy the cool air, the mountains, forests and waterfall, and not having to put up with a jungle of concrete and steel.
One must remember that it took millions of years for Cameron Highlands to be what it is, but human beings being so destructive, they could destroy a planet in one night (if I may choose to exaggerate).
We must realise that once these areas are damaged, they are considered irreversible and no matter how hard we try, the pristine conditions will be gone forever.
I hope nature lovers, individuals and non-governmental organisations come together to save and protect our beloved mountains, forests and streams before they disappear altogether, leaving nothing for the next generation to see.
I hope the Federal Government will give some thought about saving Cameron Highlands from further destruction.
We are often asked what inspires and motivates us in setting up a biodiversity centre here.
I guess it is our love and appreciation for the forest and its inhabitants. Here are some of the unique species found...
Amorphophallus bufo, the flower that looks like an Olympic torch but with a name like a frog.
Pitcher plants - insect traps
Corybas spp - an orchid with one leaf. one stem, one flower and is less than 1 cm
Jewel orchid - alien like flowers with patterned leaves.
Silver-eared mesia - a colourful and noisy bird.
Rufous-vented Niltava - true highland species.
Each creature’s life is woven into this intricate web in our forests. Each one with its own story to tell. Each one beautiful and unique in its own way. Our highland forests here are more than 1500m from sea level. There is not much research and study in this area, unlike lowland tropical rainforests. By setting up this centre we hope to gather more data to support our quest to have Gunung Brinchang area (and perhaps more areas late) gazetted as state parks and thereby protected. Land clearing is currently taking place at a horrendous rate and we are indeed racing against time to protect our precious montane forest habitat.
The Black-Naped Oriole has a yellow or olive green mantle with a strong pinkish bill and a distinctive black mask.
When volunteers help to count birds, it helps scientists understand the health of the environment.
Mention conservation and everyone’s mind readily sprints to orangutans in lush rainforests or baby turtles clumsily making their way into the deep blue sea.
But how about sitting comfortably in one’s own garden for 30 minutes and counting birds? Next weekend, this is the very thing volunteers from all over Malaysia will be doing to help preserve our environment.
On June 15 and 16, MY Garden Birdwatch (MYGB) will be holding its annual survey of garden birds in Malaysia. Now in its fourth year, MYGB was initiated by the birdwatching chapter of the Malaysian Nature Society.
KUANTAN: The clearing of land in Pos Terisu, Cameron Highlands, was done in accordance with the laws for the benefit of orang asli villagers, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said.
Adnan said an agreement was signed between the Orang Asli Development Department and a private firm to develop about 24.28 ha of agriculture land.
“The agreement was signed for five years effective from July 2006 to June 2011 to develop the land for cultivation purposes for RM5,500 per ha per year,” he said after chairing a special executive councillors meeting here yesterday.
Adnan said since 2008, 55 orang asli families received RM800 each per year from the company and the payment was raised to RM1,800 each in 2009, RM2,400 in 2010 and RM4,040 in 2011.
“The process is all in order and does not involved any element of corruption and abuse of power as alleged by some quarters
The above statement by the MB is in relation to another piece of land. The image below is what REACH is highlighting as encroachment.
Health Promotion Talks organized jointly with PKD and PANAP
Written by cmarie
Thursday, 09 May 2013 10:41
This ia REACH initiated programme to promote health awareness with the community as a follow up to the MYSihat Seminar held on 20 February. It is a joint programme spearhead by REACH at village level with the assistance and support of Dr.Raja Azim Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah and his team and Ms Deepa and Shila from the Pesticide Action Network.
Dr.Liau, REACH Vice-President addressing the audience on Development in Cameron Highlands and It’s Impact On The Environment and The Health of The People
Deepa from Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific presenting the factson Pesticides and Health.
The talk was translated into Mandarin expertly by REACH Volunteer Melody Woon.
SIMPLY TOO MUCH: Development will cause congestion
The location of the proposed commercial building (circled) that is to be built at a car park in Brinchang. Pic by Muhaizan Yahya
CAMERON HIGHLANDS: TRADERS and residents in Brinchang are up in arms against the proposed construction of a new commercial building in the town centre.
Businessman Chai Kok Sing said the plan to build two blocks of five-storey shop-offices, a joint venture between the Cameron Highlands District Council and a private property developer, would jeopardise the source of income of the traders in the surrounding areas.
The spot is presently used for parking as well as by small traders.
"The site earmarked for the development is small and crowded. Any development to be carried out in such a cramped area would only cause inconvenience to the traders as well as the public," Chai said, prior to a public hearing on the project at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Golf Club yesterday.
He said the proposed development would also turn the traffic congestion problem in the area from bad to worse, particularly during weekends.
"Severe traffic congestion from Kampung Raja to Tanah Rata and vice-versa is to be expected if the project is allowed to proceed," said Chai, who is also the spokesman for the action committee that was established by residents and traders to object to the project.
He added that the development would also contribute to noise pollution in the surrounding area.
"It is our sincere hope that the area in the town centre would be preserved and protected from new development. Hopefully, the district council will give fair attention to our grouses," he said, adding that more than 500 traders and residents have signed a memorandum opposing the project.
Resident Datuk Vinod Kumar Agarwal said it would be better if the district council upgraded public facilities in the area.
"We are not against any development that would benefit the people. However, instead of developing the area, the council should upgrade the parking facilities in the area. It also needs to beautify the area as a town square, just like Dataran Merdeka."
Legal adviser to the traders and residents, A. Silvanathan, said they would consider initiating legal action against the district council if it decided to give the green light.
District council spokesman Azizi Ahmad said views from the public would be taken into consideration before a final decision was made
8/08/12- Visit by Karmakallio Timo, Finnish Embassy Outing to to Bio-D Center
Written by cmarie
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 16:15
8 August 2012 - The delegation from the Finland Embassy headed by Mr.Karmakallio Timo, arrived in Cameron Parkview Apartment at 8.40am. They were greeted and welcomed by REACH Treasurer George, Theseira. They were ushered to an apartment to freshen up and rest and were then joined and greeted by Rama, REACH President and committee members Mr Dilip, Cikgu Ramasamy and Saras. They introduced themselves and were treated to some light refreshments provided by REACH, before starting on the highlight of the day the visit to the BioD Center and Mossy Forest Tour.
By 9.30am - Mr. Kali and Sathia from Eco Camerons arrived with their 4WD to take the group up to Bio-D Center . The 45 minute journey was equally informative with the guides pointing out interesting facts of the highlands as they made their way along the steep and winding road up to G.Brinchang . They parked the vehicles at the foothill of the Reforestation Project Site and proceed the rest of the journey on foot.
The construction of the access road was still in progress and the group proceeded to trudge up to the reforestation site. Its was a hard climb at first but thankfully for Ms. Leena and Saras, they had Mr Raja (the Embassador's Driver) who helped along the way up to Bio_D centre. It was an effort going up but great fun.
There Rama, REACH President guided the group to plant the saplings at the reforestation site. After that they proceed to the Mossy Forest Tour. The group from the Finland Embassy really enjoyed their walk in the Mossy Forest.Mr Timo (Deputy Embassador) took photos all the way long. as noted by Mr Raja his driver he was an ardent photographer. Ms Leena, really liked and enjoyed the explaination provided by oSathia. After the Mossy Forest they went to the peak of Gunung Brinchang (6666ft).
From the peak they headed to Sg. Palas Tea Factory and there listened to a short briefing about how they made tea. After a long day of walking , they sat down and had a nice cup of tea and snacks for lunch at the Sg Palas Tea Cafe
The final destination of the tour was to Cactus Valley and Big Red Strawberry farm. The delegation truely enjoyed themselves and thanked REACH, Mr. Kali's and the team. They said that they had a really enjoyable experience although they admitted to being realy tired out in the process :)