The Malaysian Environmental NGO's (MENGO) held their AGM at Uluhati from 9 to 10 May 2014. We understand MENGO is an association of 24 environmental NGO's in Malaysia. Program for the two days seemed tight and sometimes the discussions sounded quite intense I feared that someone might be thrown down from the Serambi.
Living here in the hills the issues they discussed would certainly be of interest to us, as we see the environment being degraded continuously. We certainly hope they would come up with some measures to help preserve the the green hills that we love so much. Apart from preserving the environment for its own sake we believe a thriving natural environment is one way to create economic empowerment for the residents of Hulu Langat and other places similar.
I used to say that Hulu Langat has everything that Taman Negara has to offer, albeit the rivers and lakes are smaller, but the jungles are as thick, various and diverse as those in Taman Negara. The greatest advantage Hulu Langat has over Taman Negara is that its only 40 minutes from KL. So you do not have to use up all your annual leave, just a weekend will do. We have guests who could not believe that barely an hour ago they were in KLCC or Bangsar and now they were bamboo rafting down the river. Taken in another perspective Kuala Lumpur/Selangor can offer both the amenities of the 21st century and the adventures of the primeval rainforest in one go. Not many places have that option.
But to be sure and frank, there are issues. Over the last 10 years we have been here we have seen more and more jungles being being cleared and progress have also brought along its nasty companions in the form of water bottles, plastics bags and whatever else on the road side and in the rivers. No, its not the fault of the water bottles or the plastic bags, nor progress in itself. It is we, the people, who do not seem to understand how to handle progress. We seemed to think that everything old and natural must be ripped apart and replaced with the shinny new thing to create new wealth. We cannot stop for a moment to think that even the old and natural has its own value and wealth creation abilities. Ecotourism to be precise. Haven't we heard that some countries earned OECD status by primarily relying on the tourist dollar. And the tourist dollar is not always about shopping in megamalls or chic boutiques. Our own experience has been that 75% of our guests are people in the late 20's to the mid 30's. We find this very interesting because common logic would have said that they would have preferred the city. Our only explanation is that too much of a good thing may not be that good afterall.
So in our humble opinion a few things need to be focussed on;
1. if we do not pay enough attention, our natural assets would disappear fast. So too would the eco-tourism dollar and in its place would be dry spells, unseasonal floods
2. we, the people, must heighten our awareness of the importance and the role of the environment in our overall well being. If we cannot figure this out ourselves, then shout for help
3. we the people must learn how to make money out of the environment without destroying it. We have to figure out that there are more ways to make money out of the environment apart from selling logs.
Well, that's my 2 sen worth of opinion. You know, one guest sometime ago told us that their children thought that chickens had 6 legs, until they saw our chickens running on the farm. All because all they have seen of chickens was the 6 drum sticks packed in the supermarket styrofoam. So the issues with the environment range from the hilarious to brow beating, hand wringing and heart wrenching debates and arguments.
Lets pray we get it right someday.