By JUSTINE VAZ
How do you build an urban forest park?
First comes the trail visionaries, those few who can look at the chaotic forest with its layers of roots, creepers and dead leaves and still “see” a way through.
Plastic tape affixed to trees mark where the trail will go, confirming the hunches first formed while poring over topographic maps and GPS readings.
Then comes countless hours of labour where, metre by metre, the trail slowly takes shape. Branches and sharp rattan fronds are chopped with parangs out of the way, rakes gently pull away decaying leaves.
Lone saplings are gently dug up and replanted out of harm’s way. Hoes or cangkuls are used to pry away the top layer of soil while organic matter, fine roots, scorpions and earthworms are shaken loose back with loving care back into the jungle, while the soil is patted down to form the new path.
This is how all the forest trails at the Kota Damansara Community Forest (KDCF) were built.
And behind the initial planning, chopping, sweeping, digging and patting have been hundreds of ordinary KDCF Society volunteers giving up their weekends to create something extraordinary – a network of handmade community-built trails.
However, the real champions of the Kota Damansara forest trails are the team of Temuan Orang Asli that are the backbone of both the building and maintenance of the Trails.
Today, KDCF boats a network of well-regarded sustainable forest trails – about 10km of these are multiple-use and are built according to International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) standards.
A dedicated hiking loop of 2.5 km to one of the forest reserve’s highest peaks is expected to be launched before year end. An environmental education trail of less than 1km goes round the KDCF lake.
With access to the forest now created, people can come to seek peace and serenity under the shade of the canopy, or delight in the biodiversity.
People come to admire the plants and trees, to listen to the busy chirping of birds or magnify tiny insects with massive lenses to marvel at their iridescent colours.
People come, in all shapes and sizes, ages, genders – children scamper in to explore, seniors find a spot to do taichi; others stroll, walk, sprint, ride through the forest, finding escape from the stresses of city living.
Large groups from companies come to partake in activities to give back to the community through volunteer trail work, or installing amenities for the public. The forest becomes a place for learning and enjoyment, a place for healing, reconnecting with nature, and for building new social bonds.
This is how a forest community is built. We are Kota Damansara Community Forest.
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