Taking ownership of Kota Damansara 'community' forest


  • Environment
  • Wednesday, 01 Jul 2015

The Kota Damansara Community Forest Reserve is a successful example of conservation that has brought much public benefits.

What is the “community” in the Kota Damansara Community Forest (KDCF), in Petaling Jaya, Selangor?

As this video explains, it’s about people enjoying, exercising and experiencing their forest so that they feel “a sense of community connection and ownership” of the forest.

Surrounded by residential areas, the park attracts hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners and even people doing kayaking and archery. At the main entrance, there is a utility area with a roof to organise events such as children’s art workshops.

There have also been community efforts to build trails, to encourage people to use the forest and to appreciate nature here.

“And if it’s under threat, then there will be more people passionate to save it,” explains a hiker in the video.

Indeed, there was a long campaign to fight to save this forest – 6,590ha of it was actually declared as the Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve way back on Jan 14, 1898.

But by 1993, there was strong commercial pressures on the area, with the launch of the Kota Damansara township which, ironically, had the theme “Living in Harmony with the Environment”.

Some species in the Kota Damansara Community Forest Reserve are labelled for the public to understand the forest better.

On Dec 21, 1993, the Selangor State Government excised 402.6ha from the forest reserve for a “botanical garden”, which was later given to the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (Mardi) to manage.

In 2002, the Federal Government decided to shift the National Botanical Garden to Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve in Shah Alam. Given the rather dilapidated state of the Shah Alam reserve now, it has been a blessing in disguise that the forest at Kota Damansara was saved.

It was in 2002 that The Friends of Kota Damansara was established to bring together residents and concerned individuals/organisations to campaign to save this forest.

In October 2007, the Federal cabinet approved RM141mil for the site to be developed over a five-year period and there were questions if this green lung could be preserved.

However, after sustained efforts of nature lovers, 321ha of the area were finally gazetted as a forest reserve in 2010.

Signage showing the trails in Kota Damansara Community Forest Reserve.

The forest trails here have been painstakingly built over the years by local residents and like-minded volunteers working with Temuan Orang Asli from Sungai Buloh and Bukit Lanjan.

Over the years, the forest trail network has extended steadily as the result of the close collaboration between KDCF Society, the Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (TRAKS), the Selangor Forestry Department with support from corporate partners IJM Land and PPB Group Bhd.

“It’s very important for this forest to be preserved because it’s one of the last pieces of greenery left in the city,” says a mountain biker in the video.

One happy hiker adds, “Instead of weekends at shopping malls battling traffic jams and spending a lot of money, here we can improve our health, and we don’t have to spend a single sen.”

There are now several trails in the area. For more information, see http://kotadamansaraforest.org/

 


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