Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Farm owner promises to halt soil erosion at Brinchang slope

Farm owner promises to halt soil erosion at Brinchang slope
Wednesday June 11, 2008
By Clara Chooi

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: The landowner responsible for the hill cutting in Brinchang will take immediate remedial measures to prevent soil erosion.

Big Red Strawberry farm owner S. Kumar said he had fitted two outlets to the silt trap ponds, and covered up several dangerous slopes with tarpaulin.

He would be working closely with the Department of Environment and the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) to ensure that extension work on the family farm would not harm the environment or pose a danger to those in the surrounding areas.

“We are willing to adhere to the guidelines imposed, and we had no intention of causing danger during the land clearing,” he said yesterday after officers from the two departments and the Pahang Forestry Department visited his farm following reports of hill cutting at the site.

Remedial measure: Big Red Strawberry Farm has prepared silt trap ponds to prevent soil erosion at the farm in Brinchang, Cameron Highlands.
Remedial measure: Big Red Strawberry Farm has prepared silt trap ponds to prevent soil erosion at the farm in Brinchang, Cameron Highlands.

“We built silt traps, but they were not enough. We also take responsibility for mistakenly cutting the slopes too steep, past the 25° gradient,” he said. “To remedy that, we will terrace the hill,” he said.

He added that a 3m buffer zone had been allocated along the perimeter of the affected hill and that the steep slopes would soon be re-turfed to prevent soil erosion.

Kumar, however, cried foul over allegations that land clearing works covered more than 10ha and had damaged a primary forest.

“We only applied to clear 0.8ha of the land to expand our farm and not 10ha as claimed.”

Kumar noted that the family had held a Temporary Occupational Licence on the 4ha site for 40 years now. His family had only used 1.6ha of the 4ha site and had only decided to expand the farm recently.

“Everything we did was legal and we have no reason to want to damage the environment in any way,” he said.

A Forestry Department officer confirmed that the cleared land was not part of a primary forest.

“It is a secondary forest,” he said. -- The Star.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Land clearing outrage in Brinchang

Land clearing outrage in Brinchang
Saturday June 7, 2008
By Christina Koh

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: It is a hill, which has suffered at least three landslides in the last two years, but this has not stopped a contractor from stripping its summit bare.

Environmentalists in Brinchang are outraged after spotting land-clearing work for what is believed to be a strawberry farm.

They claimed that 10ha of the summit has already been cleared and was looming dangerously close the Cactus Valley nursery, just 200m below it.

Stripped bare: A view of the land clearing works in Brinchang, Cameron Highlands, from the nearby Strawberry Park Resorts.Stripped bare: A view of the land clearing works in Brinchang, Cameron Highlands, from the nearby Strawberry Park Resorts.

The Department of Environment (DOE) last week recommended to the district office that work be stopped after finding that the contractor had violated several conditions.

Orchid enthusiast Embi Abdullah accused the developer of being an “environmental outlaw”.

“This is dangerous because there are people in homes and businesses further down the slope. What happens if there is another landslide?” he asked.

Environmentalist N. Madi said it was distressing that a primary virgin forest with rare orchids, ginger plants, cinnamon trees and medicinal plants was being destroyed. The area was also home to Imperial pigeons, serow (endangered mountain goats), civets, bear cats and migratory birds, he said.

“Once they’re driven out of their habitat, you will see cases of these animals dying because they’re unable to adapt and find food. I’ve seen it happen,” he added.

A check on the hill last month, which is part of the Ulu Bertam water catchment area, found six backhoes and other heavy machinery working on the summit.

Further down, there were signs of severe land erosion and previous landslides just 300m from the worksite.

The land clearing has since stopped, pending a site investigation site by DOE on Tuesday.

Cameron Highlands district officer Datuk Mohamad Noor Abdul Rani said the project is supposed to cover only 0.8ha and he would investigate the matter.

Guidelines for highland development projects on slopes with less than a 25-degree gradient did not need an environmental impact assessment provided the contractor fulfilled conditions such as placing silt traps, proper and environmentally-friendly drainage and avoiding use of heavy machinery.

A DOE officer said the contractor was found to have cut into the slope beyond a 25-degree gradient, violating a condition imposed by the department.

The contractor also failed to preserve a buffer zone along the edge of the summit and had apparently dumped loose soil on the slope itself.

It is learnt the contractor had only been engaged to clear 0.8ha of land for a farmer but had instead cleared more trees to make way for an access road. -- The Star.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Pahang strict in Malaysia My 2nd Home vetting

Pahang strict in MM2H vetting
Friday June 6, 2008

KUANTAN: Pahang received 39 applications for the Malaysia My Second Home programme last year and 32 this year although it has yet to officially launch it, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.

“We have strict regulations pertaining to processing the applications and to date, none of them have been approved.

“The programme is not for just anybody. The state wants to attract genuinely rich people,” he said here.

Adnan also said that the applications were for properties in Kuantan, Bentong, Cameron Highlands, Kuala Lipis and Pekan.

Topping the list was Kuantan with 17 for 2007 and 15 this year, he added.

The applicants were from Singapore, the United States, South Korea, India, Britain, China, Pakistan, Fiji, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, Thailand, Oman and Indonesia, he said.

“Successful applicants will be able to enjoy several privileges such as their children being allowed to attend school, college or university in the country and tax exemption for the purchase of vehicles assembled locally,” he added.

On another matter, the mentri besar said the number of tourists who visited Taman Negara last year was 80,890 and they spent more than RM53.8mil during their stay.

Adnan also said that the number of foreign tourists was 42,076 which was higher than domestic visitors, recorded at 38,814.

The state government and Tourism Malaysia would continue to hold various programmes to highlight the national park, including having familiarisation trips for the media, organising events such as the Taman Negara Eco-Challenge and promoting the place at exhibitions in the country and abroad, he added. -- The Star.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Adventure for 41 special Scouts

Adventure for 41 special Scouts
Wednesday June 4, 2008
By Looi Sue-Chern

FORTY-ONE special Scouts from four organisations had a field day during an outing to Taiping Zoo and Cameron Highlands in Perak in conjunction with the third Penang Cheshire Agoonoree last weekend.

The special Scouts from Penang Cheshire Home, Penang Cerebral Palsy (Spastic) Children’s Association, Penang Handicapped Children’s Centre and Sekolah Pendidikan Khas Alma were accompanied by 59 volunteers and Scouts.

While on Cameron Highlands, they toured Cactus Point in Brinchang, were treated to a dinner at SK Convent in Tanah Rata and visited a night market on their first night on Saturday.

The following day saw the special youngsters having fun with art and craft before spending a great time outdoors and playing games. Their day ended with a campfire,

Tan (right) and Khoo (behind Tan) greeting some of the special scouts as they prepare to leave for Cameron Highlands.Tan (right) and Khoo (behind Tan) greeting some of the special scouts as they prepare to leave for Cameron Highlands.

Penang Cheshire Home president Datuk Seri Khoo Keat Siew said Agoonoree had been a great success following the first two Agoonorees held at the Penang Water Sports Centre in 2006 and 2007

“This (enthusiasm) has encouraged the organisers to have this year’s Agoonoree in Cameron Highlands,” he said during the opening ceremony at Penang Cheshire Home at Babington Avenue on Saturday.

Khoo added that Penang Cheshire Home’s Scouts were also planning to climb Mount Kinabalu in the future and he was confident the Scouts would fulfil their dream

Penang Municipal Councillor Tan Hun Wooi, who represented Health, Welfare and Caring Society Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh , urged the special Scouts live up to the ideals of Scouting: to do their best and always be prepared.-- The Star