The Habitat Foundation, as part of its commitment to strengthening protected areas in Malaysia, is partnering with the Perlis Forestry Department to build a 12 km Sustainable Forest Trail to Gunung Perlis. The Gunung Perlis Trail, as it will be known, will enable park visitors to enjoy a scenic hike through this distinctive semi-deciduous forest to summit Gunung Perlis atop the Nakawan Range. The range forms a natural border with Thailand with Thaleban National Park on the other side, making it an important regional transboundary conservation area.
Perlis State Park, which covers an area of 5,075 hectares, is a small but significant part of Malaysia’s protected area network although few know of this State Park nestled amidst limestone hills, rubber estates, paddy fields and small villages. The initiative to build the Sustainable Forest Trail is expected to awaken awareness and appreciation for the park and nurture a community of regular visitors and supporters. This is part of an overall strategy to revitalize the park and generate recurring income for the upkeep of visitor amenities.
Sustainable Forest Trails are uniquely placed to benefit protected areas because the process of building them also helps nurture a strong community of trail builders and supporters working closely with the park management authorities. This community of trail enthusiasts will be called upon to play a continual role in the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the trails to complement the work of the park’s management team.
In support of The Gunung Perlis Trail, The Habitat Foundation has teamed up with the social enterprise MyChangkul because of its impressive track record in designing, building and developing a community around the acclaimed sustainable trails in the Kota Damansara Community Forest and the Shah Alam Community Forest in Selangor. In addition to its role in making these urban forests accessible for recreational use, MyChangkul has in 2018 been called upon to strengthen capacity for state parks in Perak and Johore.
The journey so far
In January 2018, MyChangkul began working with the Forestry Department and local guides to map out the most suitable alignment for the Gunung Perlis trail loop. The new alignment is already mapped out using GPS and marked out on the ground.
In August 2018, the Forestry Department organized a training workshop facilitated by MyChangkul which attracted 35 participants comprising forestry staff, local nature and outdoor guides and enthusiasts. The opportunity to have a role in building the new Gunung Perlis Trail has been extremely well-received by local people who are excited about building a trail which they can be proud of. They see it as something that will endure as a legacy for future generations.
Following the August 2018 training, it was necessary to take a break over September and October to allow the inter-monsoonal rains to pass.
In November, with the arrival of drier weather trailwork on the Gunung Perlis trail has now picked up and the core team of trail builders have been making steady progress. On weekend trail days, trained volunteer trail builders join in to share the load. Currently, the trail builders are pushing to complete the first leg from the entrance to the peak – a distance of 8 km – by January 2019. The entire trail loop is expected to be completed and launched by March 2019.
There is also scope for volunteers from outside Perlis to chip in towards this historic community-built Sustainable Trail. If you wish to learn more, kindly contact firstname.lastname@example.org