Litterbugs force closure of exotic Mossy Forest


Unnatural sight: Tourists walking along the Mossy Forest boardwalk area in Cameron Highlands. Inset: A pile of rubbish near the boardwalk entrance.

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: The age-old Mossy Forest in Gunung Brinchang, famed for its exotic flora and lush mossy carpets, has been closed for a lengthy period due to excessive littering.

No activity is allowed at the boardwalk and inside the forest, including hiking up Gunung Irau, during the closure which will be in place until mid-2016.

The closure, effective yesterday, was announced by the Pahang Forestry Department on its Facebook page.

Its director Datuk Mohd Paiz Kamaruzaman described the need to clean up rubbish in the forest as “desperate”.

He said more bins would be placed to help reduce littering, especially at the boardwalk area.

“Signboards urging the public to conserve the Mossy Forest will be increased. Maintenance work will be carried out during the closure.

“The closure will also allow the regeneration and rehabilitation of mossy undergrowth, which is the special feature of the site,” he said, adding that the department would conduct regular patrols during holiday seasons and weekends.

Pile of rubbish near the entrance of the mossy forest board walk in Cameron Highlands. SAIFUL BAHRI/The Star
A pile of rubbish near the boardwalk entrance.
 

Mohd Paiz said a dialogue with tour operators and NGOs would be held soon to seek their views on ways to conserve the forest.

The move to close the forest did not go down well with some tour guides.

One guide, who wanted to be known only as Bob, 37, blamed local tourists for it.

“There has to be enforcement to prevent people from destroying the site. Offenders should be fined,” he said. “What are we going to promote if the forest is closed?”

Fellow tour guide K. Subramaniam, 65, said the Malaysians destroyed plants by plucking them.

“They don’t listen to us but European and Middle-Eastern tourists do,” he said. “Sometimes, the foreigners even help clear out the trash.”

Another tour guide S. Thiru, 48, wanted to see the forest restored to its natural glory.

“Our Mossy Forest is one of its kind. Many people liken it to the fantastic forest scenes in The Lord of the Rings and Avatar. Our local film Puteri Gunung Ledang was also filmed there,” he added.


   

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