TRAKS Annual General Meeting: Join Us & Be Awesome

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Join Us & Be Awesome

TRAKS members have been behind the construction and maintenance of 35km+ of MTB and hiking trails in Bukit Kiara and Kota Damansara Community Forest. Look at what they achieved over the years, simply amazing!

Today, TRAKS is fighting to save this network of pristine jungle trails from developers. Despite being gazetted by the government since 2007, Bukit Kiara is under heavy threat:

Liking On Facebook Is Not Enough

We need you.

As members, committee members, volunteers - join us by becoming a member and let us raise our concern together.

Join TRAKS Annual General Meeting

Join the committee, stand up and do your bit.

  • Date: 20 July 2014
  • Time: 01.00pm
  • Venue: Pusat Komuniti Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Lorong Burhanuddin Helmi 8, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur - Google Map: 3.148337,101.622107

#SaveBukitKiara

Mountain Bikers Are Not Wheeled Locusts, They Bring Money To Towns That Desperately Need It

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Are you sick of seeing awesome shots of people riding awesome trails in, oi, awesome British Columbia? Yeah, well, you have to hand it to the province, they’ve got the trails, but more than that–they have land managers who actually embrace mountain biking. The rest of the world is woefully behind on that score–particularly the United States. Photo by Margus Riga, courtesy of BC Bike Race

By Vernon Felton

I’m not saying that British Columbia is a magical land full of unicorns that ride rainbows of sheer awesomeness dipped in maple syrup, but when it comes to access to mountain biking trails, the province to the north starts looking like something out of a fairy tale.

I know, I know … B.C. is overhyped. You’re over the North Shore. And Whistler. And Pemberton. And Rossland. And Squamish. And the Sunshine Coast. And Kamloops. And Nelson. And … wait, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah, the place is overhyped, right?

Wrong.

Look, I get that riders in the lower 48 have spent the last 20 years being inundated with pictures and videos of all the awesomeness north of the border and that it’s gotten more than a little annoying, but seriously, there’s a reason editors and filmmakers keep churning out all that B.C. content—the place is lousy with great trails. The number of towns in British Columbia that are home to hundreds of miles of absolutely brilliant trails is simply staggering. The place has no equal on earth. Seriously.

But it could. B.C. could have plenty of rivals.

Why doesn’t it? That’s the real question.

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Malaysian Citizens Want Government To Spend More To Save Native Rainforests

Rainforest in Malaysian Borneo. Photos by Rhett A. Butler.

As developing countries reach upper middle income (UMI) status, their populations are willing to pay increasing amounts toward tropical forest conservation, yet government spending on these programs lags far behind, concludes Jeffrey Vincent of Duke University and colleagues in a study available today in the PNAS Online Early Edition.

UMI countries contain some four-fifths of remaining tropical primary forest, and nearly half of the threatened endemic species found in tropical countries. Primary forests—those unaffected by humans—are disappearing three times faster than forests globally. However, international conventions and treaties have largely failed to meet their target goals in reducing deforestation, often due in part to a shortage of domestic funding.

Maliau Falls in Sabah, Malaysia

The authors conducted a meta-analysis of UMI countries, examining how several conservation indicators changed with an increase in gross national income. Public prioritizing of environmental issues, donations to domestic NGOs, government co-financing of environmental protection projects, and percent land and forest areas protected for conservation all increased with rising income. However, “the indicators of public opinion and NGO donations were more responsive to increases than the indicators of government action,” the authors write.

To better understand public perceptions of environmental protection, and gauge their “willingness to pay” (WTP) for conservation in UMI countries, the authors presented 1,261 households in Malaysia with a choice survey concerning Belum-Temengor, a high conservation value area in the north end of the country. Belum-Temengor is home to the Asian elephant, Malayan tiger, and Sumatran rhinoceros, among others, and is a priority of Malaysia’s leading environmental NGOs. The area is controlled by the state government which is, the authors note, “reluctant to protect more completely and more permanently against logging due to a concern over lost revenue and jobs.”

Malayan tiger

The results of the survey found that Malaysia’s WTP far exceeded current government spending on conservation. “Expressed per hectare,” the authors write, “annual societal WTP to protect Belum-Temengor, US$437, is much larger than the annual operating budgets of the two largest existing protected areas in Peninsular Malaysia, US$12.80 at Endau-Rompin and only US$0.98 at Taman Negara.” Further, WTP increases steadily with income for houses earning above a certain monthly threshold.

Considering the international study, and the results of the Malaysia survey, the authors suggest several factors that may be affecting governments’ failure to respond in pace with public sentiment. One issue may be, “imperfect information,” or the governments’ may be unaware of what their public values. For example, the Malaysian survey found that while the local government is reluctant to close Belum-Temengor to illegal logging for fear of economic loss, the public weighs the value of conservation for society as a whole above the economic security of a minority of loggers.

According to data presented in Global Forest Watch, Malaysia’s rate of forest loss on a percentage basis was the highest of major forest countries between 2001-2012. The background image shows deforestation alerts from Global Forest Watch’s FORMA system, the chart shows annual gross forest loss in Malaysia. Data from Hansen et al 2013.

Another issue compounding the disconnect between societal values and government spending may be that the political process limits the translation of public sentiment into governmental action. The authors point to previous studies which have concluded that, “countries that are less democratic tend to protect less land.”

On the other hand, the disparity between the societal WTP and government spending may not be entirely a domestic issue. As countries develop, there tends to be a decrease in external aid, which can result in a funding gap.

“Controlling for other factors,” the authors write, “developing countries receive less biodiversity aid as per capita national income rises.” In order to compensate for this gap, they suggest that external aid to UMI countries should focus more on improved governance.

Kinabatangan River in Malaysia

Rather than funding projects outright, the authors suggest, the international community should fund programs that help governments obtain better information on public preferences, support NGOs, and encourage governments to invest in their own conservation future. Further, foreign money paid directly to UMI countries for conservation, such as REDD carbon payments, would be most effective if they were tied to a commitment of expenditure by the country itself.

Vincent, Jeffrey R., et. al. Tropical Countries May Be Willing to Pay More to Protect Their Forests. PNAS, June 2014. doi:10.1073/pnas.1312246111.

Happy Bukit Kiara Trails By Pola Singh - The Star

By pola singh - The Star

Walkers, joggers and cyclists all love the trails on Bukit Kiara, an oasis in the middle of Kuala Lumpur.

If God had granted me one wish in my life, that wish would be to live next to a spacious green lung with challenging jungle trails.

And yes, my dream has sort of come true. I live near Bukit Kiara Park, located strategically in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

What is so unique about this place that attracts thousands of walkers, joggers, hikers and cyclists every day? Why do people from as far as Subang, Cheras and Ampang make special trips here?

Is it simply to get a good workout? Ah, it’s much more than that.

Like many other residents in my “Taman Tun” (as I call it), I walk up the hill every other day to enjoy the cool fresh air and have a good workout.

Besides walking on the paved road, I also venture into the many interesting jungle trails, the result of the good work of the Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, which builds and maintains mountain bike trails all around Bukit Kiara.

Jungle In The City

The public can now go on a number of exciting jungle trails while enjoying the beauty of nature without having to travel far out of KL. For me, Bukit Kiara is too good to be true.

The Bukit Kiara Park and its surrounding hills not only provide a great place to exercise, it’s also a place for children to play, families to gather and neighbours to meet. Stressed-out city folk and nature lovers can enjoy a peaceful retreat.

Aside from enjoying a good workout at this green lung, its tranquil and pleasant setting is home to many wild plants, birds, monkeys and other animals.

Whether one is a walker, jogger, cyclist or hiker, one is assured of a challenging workout amidst a clean and safe environment. The 5km Bukit Kiara jogging trail is quite demanding, if not overly tough. The hill trail requires some effort and determination to reach the top (250m above sea level). On the way up, don’t forget to enjoy the greenery.

First timers and the not-so-fit have described the initial, winding 1.5km climb as a “killer stretch”, as it is uphill all the way. Once they reach the mid-section (where there is a crossroads), there is a 2km (anti-clockwise) picturesque circuit with several mini waterfalls surrounded by thick vegetation on both sides of the road – making it an almost perfect setting for a nature walk or jog.

In the mornings, one can hear lots of birds chirping away. This loop will take walkers about 20 minutes to complete and bring them back to the midsection. Then it is the same way back home except that it is downhill all the way.

All in, it takes an about an hour to 90 minutes to complete the tarmac trail. As for the jungle trails, it will depend on how many mini hills one wants to hike up.

At the end of it all, many will admit that they feel refreshed after the fantastic workout – it’s an indescribable sensation that money can’t buy! And this is the single most important reason they keep coming back again and again.

Although I am a 65-year-old retiree, I’ve never felt so good in my life because of my daily jogs on this trail. When I mention that I walk and jog about 1,800km a year, people express disbelief. I jog about 6km six times a week and that works out to 36km per week. Multiply that by 50 weeks and you get 1,800km or six trips from KL to Penang on foot!

Place To Socialise

Besides breathing in fresh air, toning up sagging muscles and developing one’s stamina, many also build up a circle of friends over time. Indeed, there are many groups, including senior citizens, who hook up by WhatsApp (or other forms of social media) and meet regularly to hike up the hill.

The socialising side of this recreational activity is catching on as many prefer to have jogging “kaki” (enthusiasts) to exchange views and notes while exercising.

One meets different types walkers and joggers. There are those who are dead serious on getting the maximum workout by maintaining the fastest possible pace without looking left and right. The majority walk at a steady pace while there are those who amble at a relaxing pace while enjoying the beauty of nature or chit-chatting with their colleagues.

Dating couples also use the jogging trail as an excuse to pak toh (dating in Cantonese). They clamber up at such a leisurely pace that they hardly work up a sweat. It is the company that counts, not the trail!

Then there are those who cannot leave home without their cell phones. The phone is virtually attached to their ears all the time – it’s probably a good time to catch up with stockbrokers, remisiers, office colleagues and friends while on the trail. This is nature walk KL style for busy executives! Although once is in the middle of the jungle, civilisation is just a phone call away…

Who exactly are these walkers and joggers? It’s a motley crowd – there are retirees, housewives, journalists, teachers, senior government servants, students, undergraduates, academicians and even taxi drivers.

But beware, there are impediments to watch out for. Don’t be surprised to see a snake slithering across the trail to get to the other side. Keep your eyes wide open.

Then there are monkeys to contend with. They want to be fed as they now depend on food brought in by good Samaritans. As soon as they see someone with a plastic bag, they will not hesitate to grab the bag, especially if it is red.

The middle section of the paved road is designated for cyclists who can speed downhill; so please keep to the right or left sections of the road (they are marked) when walking. There have been near misses.

For those venturing onto the jungle trails, have ready mosquito repellent. As long as one is mobile, the mosquitoes will not harm you; it is only when you start to stand and stare that they will attack. Those with hairy hands and legs, like me, need to worry less! Many say that I am thick-skinned as I have got used to the mosquito bites.

As for the cyclists, they are indeed a very enterprising lot. They have constructed various barriers on the trail to make the ride more fun, challenging and exciting. Thanks to them, new trails are being developed all the time for people to enjoy.

For the regulars, walking, jogging or cycling has become addictive here and I’m not afraid to admit that I am one of them. My other half calls me a health nut – because my day will not be complete without a decent workout at Bukit Kiara.

She can be sure that I will never ever retire from jogging. There’s so much going on in Bukit Kiara that I don’t want to miss any of it.

The Truth About Trails - Smarten Up, Don’t Dumb Down

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by Ed Haythornthwaite

Words by Seb Kemp
Illustration by Jon Gregory

I’m confused, I’m in two minds about singletrack. I have a dirty little secret that I need to confess: I like flow trails. I like buff, groomed, sculpted, pumpy, flowy and, errr… easy ones. But I don’t like it that I like these trails.

The perfectly sculpted lines that have been popping up over the last decade or so have given us so much, but still they attract detractors. The hardcore among our fraternity yell that the experience of mountain biking is being dumbed down by these Fisher–Price simulations of mountain biking. They claim the challenge has been cut out and crushed gravel laid over the top, but I can’t see the problem as clearly as ‘they’ do.

It’s a trail that has been purposely carved into the earth for our delight – what’s wrong with that? Do you remember when mountain bikers were public enemy number one? A plague on the countryside, and a cancerous scourge of skidding idiots who were kept at bay by the stick–wielding geriatrics who rambled about the fields and forests like doddering sentries? I don’t care if mountain biking becomes a mainstream activity but it’s really quite pleasing to see that it has gained enough respect, toleration and acceptance that now we are spoilt for options as to where we can bike. Trail access has opened up where once it was forbidden, new mountain bike specific destinations have had public (and private) finance funnelled into them so we have somewhere to ride our bikes and, best of all, a lot of this development has been managed and governed by mountain bikers so we aren’t just getting palmed off with appropriated approximations of what others think mountain biking is.

Sure, these newer developments are aimed at the lowest common denominator so are often a little less aggressive than some high flying dudes want, but what can we expect, government funded double black diamond killers that only a tiny minority of riders can ride, let alone enjoy? Of course, if someone is going to pump money into something they at least expect that the investment will last past the first rainy season. These new trails are being built using ancient trail building wisdom: smart use of gradient, grade reversals, trails that shed water, good drainage, suitable construction methods, and clever use of materials. Now we have trails that might last one hundred years and remain in that condition for the whole time.

When similar techniques are applied to existing trails that are falling off the hillside riders are similarly angry. Complainers rarely understand why fixes are committed. Often the argument is that fixes are made to make things easier, when really it’s simply to stop the trail dying. More mountain bikers could learn a thing or two by going out and seeing how a trail actually works, how water runs, how riders react to trail situations and how that impacts the trail (elemental rule: keep the water ‘off’ and the riders ‘on’ the trail). Trails change, especially if they are ‘built’ with a rake and a bit of back brake.
I like these manicured, man-made lines because I get to go fast through the forest and I feel superhuman. I’m lucky to live in BC where we have three lifetimes’ worth of heinously challenging trails, so I am thankful for buff, flowing, low grade trails once in a while. It’s great to really pick up the speed and glide through the trail having a blast without so much risk of puncturing or pummelling into the ground. But what if that was it, that every time I rode my bike it was exactly the same? What if all trails were flow country trails? I’d hate it.

The beauty of mountain biking is the variety. Every trail is different – dirt is transformed by weather, season and location, the chaotic patterns of roots can not be replicated, rock and stone varies from place to place, there’s dust and there’s bulldust, trail builders have different visions, some trails were meant for biking, others were meant for donkeys, some trails are steep, some are mellow, but all have their own challenge. I love all trails but if they were all the same then I’m not sure I’d be quite so enamoured with mountain biking. It would be similar to table tennis or data inputting.

But I don’t think we are in danger of that happening. Sure, trail centres and flow trails are popping up everywhere, but these are gateways, drugs and quick fixes that are fun to dabble in once in a while. They aren’t going to be the Final Solution for mountain biking, just an added experience. Just so long as there are enough people willing to cut a line where there previously wasn’t one, open up a trail or resurrect a dying track, then things will be all right. A little civil disobedience goes a long way to keeping it that way. So the next time you hear someone bitterly complaining about trails being dumbed down ask them what they have done to smarten things up.