REACH organized this Reforestation and Mossy forest tour programme especially for REACH members during the school holidays to target local Cameron Highland volunteers.
Although it was a wet and cold morning, the drizzle did not deter the volunteers who had gathered at the Tanah Rata car park at sharp 8.30 am. The group comprised of Mr and Mrs. Woon, Cikgu Mangai and her two children, Saras and her three nephews and niece, Sivan and his friends and REACH's faithful volunteers Siva, Josh, Erica and Zoe.
The programme was delayed by half an hour as we waited for Ms.Carrol and her two nieces to arrive from Kuala Lumpur. She apologized for the delay as she had started her journey at 5am but had to drive slower up the Tapah road due to the rain. However she expressed her gladness that the delay and the rain did not dampen the spirit of the volunteers who had gathered at the open car park in Tanah Rata in high spirits.
9.00 am - We departed for the Reforestation site in 4WD's.
9.40am - The vehicles were parked at the foot of the reforestation site. The volunteers were given a short briefing by Ms.Carrol on the background of the project and some safety tips of how to trek up and down the steep incline safely.
We were fortunate to have three young and strong volunteers; Suressh, Subessh and Dinesh who helped us to carry the saplings and tools up to the reforestation plots.
Although all of us began at the same time, along the way some stopped awhile to take a short break (some longer than others:) The steep incline and rain made it wet and slippery but we all made it up safely in about 30 minutes.
At the peak Ms.Carrol explained about the reforestation project and thanked the group for volunteering to come up the difficult path to help plant saplings. She explained that the area was once a beautiful mossy forest which had been cleared illegally by a farmer more than 10 years ago. Since then, REACH has been bringing up volunteers sand have planted more that 10,000 saplings to date.
Mr. Vasu explained to us how to transfer the trees from the poly bad and how to place and plant the saplings in the ground. Then we were divided into pairs and each given a sapling to be planted. Mr.Woon and Mr.Francis helped to dig holes for the saplings.
After that we took a group picture. On our way down we stopped by the Bio-D center to use the toilets and to wash our hands and clean up.
11.00 am - As a reward for the volunteers hard work Mr.Vasu and Mr.Francis took the group up to the observation tower at the peak of Gunung Brinchang, Here we were also served light refreshments (sandwiches and fried noodle) courtesy of REACH.
From the observation tower although the view was not too clear due to the mist and rain we enjoyed the "freezing" feeling and it made for a good photo session.
11.30 am - Mr.Francis gave an interesting briefing and explanation of the importance of the Mossy Forest to us. It was a very interesting fact to learn that the Mossy Forest acts like a sponge taking the water from the clouds and releasing it slowly into the streams. Then we went on a twenty minute walk through a trail in the Mossy Forest. Before we went out of the trail, Mr.Francis asked us to taste the water from the mountain he said it was natural water. Some brave volunteers tried it and said that it tasted like black tea without sugar.
12.00 pm - Finally we reluctantly left the beautiful mossy forests and headed back to the 4WD's to Tanah Rata..
Although the track up to the Reforestation site is a little difficult to climb but it was something new for me. Although it was tiring it was well worth it, as the atmosphere in the Mossy Forest was very cosy and comfortable. I look forward to the next session and appeal to more local Cameron Highlands volunteers to come and assist us in our efforts.