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.

Read More

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.

Taxpayers’ Monies Down The Drain In Kiara Park? – Lim Chui Choo and P.W. Chin

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Newly laid drainage pipes in Bukit Kiara park exposed after a storm - pic by Lim Chui Choo, April 22, 2014

The Malaysian Insider, 22 April 2014

'The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.' – Blaise Pascal

The costly high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes wrapped in geotextiles recently laid in Kiara Park were put to the test and ‘exposed’ after the heavy downpour and storm that lashed the city on 21 April 2014.

The results were not just visible, but broadcasted all over the park the morning after as park-users lamented, “Did you see the slope and the drains?“

The existing open drains lined with precast concrete sections have been serving well for years by collecting storm-water flow from the hill slopes of Bukit Kiara and rapidly conveying it into the streams and lake.

All that the National Landscape Department (JLN) needed to do was to regularly clear the drains of accumulated sediment, twigs and leaves.

So why waste taxpayers’ monies on the costly HDPE pipe conduit in its ‘upgrades’ in Kiara Park?

Concerns from park-users about these HDPE pipes causing erosion had been raised in September 2013 when JLN started laying the costly HDPE pipes up on the jogging track from the entrance of park to the Indy Jones suspension bridge.

A retired engineer with 18 years of experience with the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (JPS) had pointed out then the likely negative effects of using the HDPE pipeline which may cause erosion given the terrain in the park. He had suggested that it is better to leave the existing drains open as they were.

Another park-user, Datuk Kamal, geologist and consultant, had echoed the same concerns, all of which were highlighted to Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK), the NGO fighting for the preservation of 189 ha of the people’s forest park in Bukit Kiara, and the relevant authorities.

Thankfully, the HDPE pipe conduit which was planned for the whole jogging track in Lembah Kiara Park (LKP) then was nibbed in the bud or we may well be seeing a disastrous ‘clogging track’ all the way up the slopes with fallen trees and a possible landslide by now.

What had happened on a much reduced scale at the lower end of the slope was storm-water had swarmped the buried conduits and flowed swiftly above the stonefill.

At steep stretches, the swift (probably supercritical) flow washed away the stones and cut deep gullies in the ground, exposing the HDPE pipes, even uplifting them.

Is this Mother Nature‘s way of telling man, in particular JLN and the relevant authorities, to leave the people’s park as it is?

And to preserve the forest park as a natural, unique lasting legacy for the people as it was meant to be when cabinet designated 189 ha of Bukit Kiara to be Taman Awam Bersekala Besar (TABB) in 2007 by honouring that promise with the gazetting of Bukit Kiara as urged by FoBK and its coalition partners of 47 resident associations and NGOs? – April 22, 2014.

* Lim Chui Choo and P.W Chin read The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

[More pics below by TRAKS]image

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Bukit Kiara: Forest no place for barbed wires - The Star Online

Razor sharp: The barbed wire installed by the National Lands cape Department in Bukit Kiara can cause injury to park users

by shalini ravindran - The Star Online

Visitors to Bukit Kiara were appalled to see barbed wire at the park, believed to have been installed by National Landscape Department (JLN) workers recently.

The barbed wire was spotted in at least two locations with one very close to a popular bike trail.

Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK) pro-tem chairman Tan Sri Salleh Mohd Nor said it was ridiculous to use barbed wire in a public park.

“Apart from the danger that the wires pose to the public, they also prevent the migration of wild animals in the park.”

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) vice-president Henry Goh said the use of barbed wire in a public park was dangerous.

“The use of concertina razor barbed wire barriers in public parks are banned in some countries. They can cause injury to park users.

“Imagine a cyclist crashing into one of them. Other types of accidents could also occur,” he said.

Goh added that the barbed wire barrier should be removed immediately before any untoward incident occurs.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng also questioned the need for barbed wire.

“There is absolutely no need for barbed wire in a forested park because users might be injured by it especially when they are running or cycling in the early hours or late evening or when it rains,” he said, when contacted.

Meanwhile, in a tweet on April 11, via JLN’s official Twitter account @NegaraTaman, the department said: “Barbed wire diletakkan sementara sebelum isu sempadan diselesaikan.” (Barbed wire was placed temporarily while the boundary issue is being resolved).

Attempts to clarify the matter with JLN proved unsuccessful.

Salleh said that the boundary between the government and a private corporation should have been resolved first, before using a safer material to demarcate the border.

Bukit Kiara stakeholders have also long been campaigning for the 188.9ha piece of land to be gazetted as a green lung.

Park users and environmentalists have also been pushing the 3.5m-high fence project along a 4.7km stretch to demarcate the area to be removed.

Is Bukit Kiara Park Makeover Worth The Millions Spent? – Lim Chui Choo

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The toilets undergoing costly renovation at Lembah Kiara Park. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 16, 2014

“The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value.” – Theodore Roosevelt

After almost four years, a “dead” man-made waterfall that used to be the source of life in Lembah Kiara Park will spring to life again before completion of upgrades by the National Landscape Department (JLN) in mid-May.

And all because JLN said that it did not have the budget to buy a new pump to replace the one broken down since 2010.

Above the waterfall, a half-painted red steel bridge lies in suspension propped up by a make-shift steel scaffolding. This steel bridge is being constructed to replace the wooden suspension bridge fondly dubbed by park users as “Indy Jones’s bridge” which had made LKP famous.

Why are “rigid” materials like steel plates used for the base and solid steel railings for the sides if the bridge is a suspension bridge?

More importantly, will the new bridge be safe for park users given the heavy load of the steel plates used for the base and with solid steel railings added on for the sides which have yet to be installed?

Why were the original cables supporting the twin pillars at both ends of the bridge not changed or strengthened in line with the upgrade of the new bridge?

Apparently, two additional smaller cables have been extended midway from the bridge to a makeshift constructed concrete base on the slope after concerns were raised but will these be sufficient to steady the bridge once the steel scaffolding below the steely bridge are removed?

Why were suggestions from park users to use natural material like chengal wood, which would blend in with the natural environment and had withstood the park and its users in good stead for the past 20 years not considered by JLN in its “makeover” of the suspension bridge?

Whatever design JLN may have on its “upgraded” steel bridge, park users will rather wait in suspense for 25 heads of departments from the relevant authorities to make their maiden walk across the bridge first, based on the maximum weight allowed on good old Indy.

A park user, Mr Shah, had complained last week he slipped and nearly fell on the supposedly anti-slip steely bridge after the rain.

Park users are also asking why the “super bungalow” toilet has been converted into a “resort office” for JLN enforcement officers.

Their cries reached a crescendo during the recent water crisis when the old run-down toilets at the entrance of the park was closed temporarily resulting in some park users having to answer the call of nature in the bushes!

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The pond filled with still water in the Lembah Kiara Park. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 16, 2014.

The existing toilets at the entrance of the park are insufficient (only two each for women and men) and are smelly which makes one wonder why JLN is spending millions in “upgrades” when a basic amenity is lacking and not maintained in the park.

A new toilet at the entrance had been built next to the existing old one only to be abandoned as JLN later discovered it will pollute a nearby stream.

Why not convert this new abandoned toilet into an office rather than waste more taxpayers’ monies to convert the costly “super bungalow toilet” in the park? Shouldn’t any conversion of the super bungalow toilet rightfully be designed for the rakyat’s benefit?

Park users are also questioning why they need to be monitored by the authorities when all they do is walk, jog, breathe and do tai chi?

What is the rationale for enforcement officers to be housed in a “resort office”? Any effective enforcement is mostly at the first point of entry, that is, at the entrance of park.

There is an existing spacious security house at the entrance of the park which is under-utilised. Why not use the existing security house to accommodate whatever enforcement officers?

Park users are also questioning the one too many gazebos (eight) and “rehat platforms” that seem unutilised, especially on weekdays.

In fact, the “rehat platforms” have already posed maintenance issues with fallen leaves and branches from the trees encircling them, while the polymer composite planks appear chipped or broken in some places.

Was there also a necessity to replace all the old power cables and working antique pole lights?

While new cables and lighting up on the jogging track were necessary and a welcome sight to park users, the existing cables and lights down were working except for probably only a handful of lights.

Was it cost effective to replace all the antique poles and to install 230 lights with electricity rates up by 15%?

After the initial haste to complete the unnecessary structures, there was a temporary halt to the JLN upgrades while mosquitoes multiply and make hay in the park.

An English expatriate who has made Malaysia his second home in Taman Tun Dr Ismail had this to say: “I went round the park last weekend – sad to see all the mud holes full of water- good mosquito breeding there, too. Got bitten to bits – a bit ironic when there is a banner outside about the war on Aedes… Really sad to see how the park has ‘improved’.”

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The ‘upgraded’ steel bridge. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 16, 2014.

Another French expatriate was more scathing about the “upgrades” in the park when he took his children there in December 2013.

He was “horrified by what LKP had turned into and I’ll never ever want to come back here again…”

Other park users like Siti Hansen, Mohamad and Pete Chin asked what happened to their suggestions for more “softscape” in the park.

If only JLN had spent a little of the taxpayers’ money in what had made Putrajaya proud and famous, park users might be singing a different tune. – April 16, 2014.

* Lim Chui Choo is a child of nature and reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Join Friends of Bukit Kiara inaugural General Meeting this Sat. 19th April, 11:00 in TTDI !
Bukit Kiara, as one of the last green lung in KL, is under threat of destruction of its flora and fauna by irresponsible organizations bent on turning the pristine forest into another concrete jungle.  Help us to preserve and conserve Bukit Kiara by joining as a member of Friends of Bukit Kiara at the Inaugural General Meeting on Saturday, 19 April 2014 at 11:00 am at the SKTTDI (2), Jalan Abang Haji Openg, TTDI.  Show your support together with your family and friends. With strength in numbers, we can make a difference.
Henry Goh - Malaysian Nature Society

Join Friends of Bukit Kiara inaugural General Meeting this Sat. 19th April, 11:00 in TTDI !

Bukit Kiara, as one of the last green lung in KL, is under threat of destruction of its flora and fauna by irresponsible organizations bent on turning the pristine forest into another concrete jungle.

Help us to preserve and conserve Bukit Kiara by joining as a member of Friends of Bukit Kiara at the Inaugural General Meeting on Saturday, 19 April 2014 at 11:00 am at the SKTTDI (2), Jalan Abang Haji Openg, TTDI.

Show your support together with your family and friends. With strength in numbers, we can make a difference.

Henry Goh - Malaysian Nature Society