Raja Musa Forest Reserve (RMFR), Selangor, Malaysia
How to stop the haze and have fun at the same time?
Here are the three ingredients: a group of passionate people, a peat forest, and a warm, welcoming homestay.
We overcame a long journey, hard labour and the scorching sun to block a 3.5 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep canal. Our dam helped maintain a high water level in the peatland to prevent Haze causing fires.
We left our worries behind and waded through the peat swamp forest reserve and supported local agro-tourism. The wonderful 3-days People’s Expedition to Experience Peat (PEEP) at the Raja Musa Forest Reserve (RMFR) in Selangor, Malaysia allowed us to deepen our understanding of peatland conservation in the local ecology and economic context and to feel accomplished and more bonded than ever.
- Visit of conservation area
- Tree planting
- Canal blocking
- Trek in peat swamp forest
- Visit of local agriculture and discussion with local community
- Visit of palm oil plantation (to be confirmed)
Registration & Fundraising
Registration & fundraising are now closed for our Malaysian expedition.
Thank you to all the participants and donors who supported the project!!!
The next trip will be in 2018. Dates are to be confirmed, stay tuned!
Our local partner
The Global Environment Centre (GEC) was established in 1998 to work on environmental issues of global importance. The Centre is registered in Malaysia as a non-profit organisation but works regionally and internationally both directly and through many partners. It supports information exchange and capacity building as well as undertakes strategic projects particularly in developing countries. GEC has been supporting the Government of Selangor and the Selangor State Forestry Department to manage the Raja Musa Forest Reserve since 1998.
The story of Raja Musa Forest Reserve
The Rehabilitation of Raja Musa Forest Reserve is a collaborative programme among Global Environment Centre, Selangor State Government and Selangor State Forestry Department to secure corporate sponsorship to rehabilitate 1,000 hectares of degraded land within a 23,000 hectares peat swamp forest.
The programme includes a range of actions includingre prevention, restoration of natural water table, and encouragement of natural regeneration as well as replanting of severely degraded areas. The programme involves the engagement of local communities and volunteers in carrying out the seedling procurement,enrichment planting, post planting treatment and monitoring of threats.
What a kampong life experience!
A once in a lifetime experience!
There is a lot that we can lose
if we do not protect the peatlands.
A crazy Kampong immersion
and a rich human experience
which directly benefits
to the local community
I was glad to join the People’s Expedition to Experience Peat (PEEP) because I was sick of whining about the haze and wished to take active steps to learn about why haze happens, and therefore be empowered to make it stop!
Understand the ground level conditions
and be able to see the rise in water level
on the spot after fun sweating work!!
Highlight #1 Canal Blocking
The RMFR is a peat swamp forest surrounded by agriculture land mainly consisting of rice paddy and oil palm plantations.
PM.Haze’s local partner, Global Environment Center (GEC), has been supporting the Government of Selangor and the Selangor State Forestry Department to manage the reserve since 1998. One of the key challenge is the decrease of water level in the peat swamp caused by drainage of water by the oil palm plantations outside the reserve. During dry season, the dried peat catches fire easily. To reduce the impact of the drainage, canals blocks are built to dam up the stream and maintain a desirable water level within the forest reserve, meanwhile supplying the excess water to the surrounding plantations. These canal blocks will keep the peat swamp wet and are the most cost-effective measures to prevent fire.
The canal-blocking project was crowd-funded and we would like to express our deepest appreciation for those who donated to the project. We raised S$1750 in two days, which went entirely to pay for the cost of canal-blocking and planting 30 native Tenggek Burung trees.
Highlight #2 Peat Swamp Tour
It was definitely the first time for most of us to wade through a peat forest.
According to Raj from GEC, Raja Musa Forest Reserve (RMFR) is part of a huge peatland area larger than Singapore. Peat swamp forests, also known as peatland forests, are unique wetland ecosystems where partially decomposed organic matter accumulates over thousands of years under waterlogged conditions to form carbon-rich soil, or peat. Besides serving as a source of water supply, peat swamp forests also serves as habitat for numerous flora and fauna including many threatened and endangered species.
Peat can store large amount of water because its structure is not very firm and has a high pore volume. Even in the dry season, water level in the peat swamp forest is quite high.
The distinct black colour of the peat water is due to tannin from decomposing organic matter. The organic matter under the water decomposes very slowly as bacteria struggle to survive in this very acidic and oxygen depleted environment. Because the decomposition is slow, organic matter accumulates and peat grows over time. This makes peatland excellent carbon storage.
In about 100,000 years, peat will turn into coal!
The peat landscape is in stark contrast with the oil palm plantations nearby. Oil palm plantations on peat are created by draining the peatland. Notice the drastic transformation of the landscape. According to Raj from GEC, the exposed root is a sign of peat subsidence, a result of the release of huge amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. Peatland is therefore not suitable for large scale agriculture and no new peatland should be converted to grow oil palm or timber.
Highlight #3 Homestay
RMFR and the adjacent areas have a long history of fire occurrences. Besides the community-based rehabilitation program where villagers are involved in fire prevention measures, additional incentives for community to protect the forest is created through the local agro-tourism. The Sungai Sireh agro-tourism homestay program started in 1989. Villagers generate additional income by hosting tourists all over the world. The program makes protecting peat forest easy: locals are incentivised to protect the peat forest for tourists.