A visit to PITC @ Temenggor

The team with the Landy

MANAGA, BioD Bos, and two ruffnecks!

We had a good 2 days visit to Perak Integrated Timber Complex together with BioD Leisure and Recreation (subsidiary of Perak SEDC) and Malaysian Nature Guide Association (MANAGA) to assess the possibility of eco-tourism program in the allocated compartments by PITC (subsidiary of Perak SEDC). We arrived at the location on Monday 20th on Landrover MyLandy 4×4 which made a quick stop at Gerik town for “teh tarik” in the morning while waiting for the team from Ipoh. After finishing our quick drink, we then continue to PITC towards Banding and made another quick pitstop at Banding Lakeside Inn for the LOO before heading into the logging area of PITC. It was not just a quick drive from Banding island, because the entrance was near the Kelantan border and we had to pass the Titiwangsa stop (the highest public pit stop on the way to Jeli, Kelantan). The entrance of course if full of logged timbers and approximately 15km we reached the “kongsi” of the logging crew next to the Orang Asli village. We were greeted by the local crews and actually had nice lunch served by the canteen. We thought we are going to sleep in hammocks and tents for the night, but they had nice small village built for the crews complete with toilets, surau, canteen, dorms and even a “sepak takraw” arena. There were 3 companies which shared the same compound.

A dead Rafflesia Kerrii at the location

Our afternoon was spent trekking the Kerrii Rafflesia species deep into the jungle. The 4×4 ride took about half an hour. Rafflesia species Kerrii is a species which was found in 1929 in Ranong Province Thailand by A.F.G Kerr, a Thai Botanist. It is dull in red color and has a tiny spot with distance between spots of 3-4 mm. It has a small spot pattern compared to the other species found in Belum area (Cantleyii and Azlanii).  It is normally found between 500-1000 mtrs from sea level. In fact when we trekked to the locaton, the height was measured at about 800+mtrs above sea level.

About Rafflesia

Rafflesia buds

Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic flowering plants. It was discovered in the Indonesian rain forest by an Indonesian guide working for Dr. Joseph Arnold in 1818, and named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the leader of the expedition. It contains approximately 27 species (including four incompletely characterized species as recognized by Meijer 1997), all found in South East Asia, on the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines.

The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots. It is an endoparasite of vines in the genus Tetrastigma (Vitaceae), spreading its root-like haustoria inside the tissue of the vine. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the five-petaled flower. In some species, such as Rafflesia Arnoldii, the flower may be over 100 centimetres (39 in) in diameter, and weigh up to 10 kilograms (22 lb). Even the smallest species, R. manillana, has 20 cm diameter flowers. The flowers look and smell like rotting flesh, hence its local names which translate to “corpse flower” or “meat flower”.

The vile smell that the flower gives off attracts insects such as carrion flies, which transport pollen from male to female flowers. Little is known about seed dispersal. However, tree shrews and other forest mammals apparently eat the fruits and disperse the seeds. Rafflesia is an official state flower of Sabah in Malaysia, as well as for the Surat Thani Province, Thailand. The name “corpse flower” applied to Rafflesia is confusing because this common name also refers to the Titan Arum (Amorphophallus Titanum) of the family Araceae.

Moreover, because Amorphophallus has the world’s largest unbranched inflorescence, it is sometimes mistakenly credited as having the world’s largest flower. Both Rafflesia and Amorphophallus are flowering plants, but they are still distantly related. Rafflesia Arnoldii has the largest single flower of any flowering plant, at least when one judges this by weight. Amorphophallus titanum has the largest unbranched inflorescence, while the Talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera) forms the largest branched inflorescence, containing thousands of flowers; this plant is monocarpic, meaning that individuals die after flowering.

Continue to our journey in PITC….

An active logging trail in the background

After the Rafflesia trek, we then continue on 4×4 towards an area where we found small “sang” tree which are famous in Perak and commonly found in the rainforest in Perak. The sound of the birds could be heard everywhere. The breeze were wonderful on our skin and anybody with nice hammock can just sail away in dreams within seconds. We spent about an hour at the location and continue back to our compound on 4×4. While aiting for dinner, we had a quick visit to the Orang Asli village together with PITC officers which is only 5 mins 4×4 ride. They were about 10 families in the village and most of them work as hunters, farmers, planters and selling jungle produce like rattan. The houses were spreadded around with a huge empty compound in the middle. The source of the water is from the clean river next to the village. We quickly finish our trip at the orang sli village as the dawn is approaching on us. The night is coming. It gets dark early int he rainforest.

We were served with another fantastic meal from PITC’s cook with meat curry, sambal belacan and vegetables. The food has never been so good especially after tiring trek to the Rafflesia and rough 4×4 ride.

The night just simply fantastic with the sound from other than the generator set, you could only hear the sound of the jungle insects and animals. The crews here do not have much activity at night other than watching VCDs and Karaoke until the light out at 10pm. We had a small place for us to unwind and setup our sleeping bags, hammocks and even an air mattress (Omaq punya kerja…). Shower was cold like mad because the water is directly from the stream nearby. We had a very quick shower otherwise somebody is going to burn the house just to keep warm!

Next day (Day 2)

A cut tree.

Our second day started after 7am, some of us has gotten up since 6am due to the cold morning . But it was a wonderful experienced and all of us love it. After fantastic breakfast at PITC’s canteen, we head up to see how’s logging been done in PITC.

Perak ITC is a subsidiary of the Perak State Government’s economic arm called the State Economic Development Cooperation (SEDC). The entire concession area covers some 9000 hectare portion of the Temengor Forest Reserve within Hulu Perak district, Malaysia.  These concession areas consists of rich and highly diverse tropical rainforest, including valuable timber species, non-timber resources such as medicinal plants, palms, wild orchids and abundant bamboo and rattan species. The rich presence of wildlife, especially elephants, monkeys, sambar deer, birds and insects as well as aquatic life is unmistakable.

The general management objectives of PITC include developing a sustainable vertically integrated timber-based industry, managing the concession for timber production and to ensure that all other uses, functions and services whether economic, ecological, or social are continuously improved and safeguarded, improving processing of timber resources and enhancing the value of downstream activities and promoting the export of high value added forest products. PITC practices the Selective Management System (SMS), which allows for a more flexible timber harvesting regime that is consistent with the need to safeguard the environment. The average sustainable yield for the 30-year harvesting cycle for PITC concession areas has been estimated at about 108m3/ha gross.

Several potential areas of High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) include unique habitats harbouring rare or endemic plants, or known areas where the congregation of animals in search of food or minerals occurs. From the field audit carried out under the Forest Management Certification Evaluation in May 2001, it was felt that the forested areas around salt licks, which protect many large mammals, should be classified as HCVF.

Groups of plants with economic potential as high quality timber or pharmaceutical resources should also be considered for protection so as to provide a source of generic material useful for future improvement through selective breeding. (Source: The Forest Management Certification Evaluation on the Forest Concession Area of Perak Integrated Timber Complex (Perak ITC), SCS, May 2002)

This is the first time experienced for some of us to see how a large tree was cut. The area was cleared enough for the tree without harming the other trees surrounding it.  To be continued…

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