Monday, September 27, 2010

Tree Planting @ Raja Musa peat swamp 25 sept 2010

Hmmmm...tree planting. Go green. Do my bit for Mother Nature. Sure I will give it a try.
I looked through their websites and prepared some Powerpoint slides to prepare Fai for the trip (I had time :)) The slides managed to get Fai excited, so I guess it was worth the extra effort.
We left the house at 8am, took the North-South highway towards Ipoh and exited at Bukit Tagar Exit 119.

It was difficult looking for this dirt road leading to the Raja Musa forest reserve. If not for the car parked by the roadside, we would have missed it.

Walking along the dirt path flanked by oil palm trees.

The boys got a close look at the palm fruits.

500hactres of peat forest was cleared by illegal loggers and planted with cash crops such as pineapples and bananas.

Barren landscape. No trees as far as the eye can see. Just lots of lalang.

After a 1km walk from the main road we came to a white tent. Volunteers who had arrived earlier got to change their footwear into rubber boots.
A huge pile of marcotted Mahang trees needs to be transported to the planting site
The volunteers with their arms full of mahang trees.

The Mahang tree was chosen because it is 'sun-loving' and has a high survival rate. In about 3 years it would be able to provide shade for the introduction of other trees such as jelutong and meranti which are native to peat forests.

Those twigs sticking out from the lalang are Mahang trees that were planted by other groups.

We walked another 1.5km to this red tent. It provided much needed shade from the sweltering heat. One teenager collapsed from the heat. He had difficulty breathing due to his asthma.
The humidity level is much higher in the peat swamp. Methane gas is released as well.
Humidity + Methane + Heat = Grouchy Boys
At this point the boys wanted out.
Luckily after a short rest, the boys were up and going.

Youthful energy provided most of the labour to transport the marcotted trees. It would have taken ages without their help.
Sitting in the shade of the red tent, we observed the other volunteers.

The strings securing the bags had to be cut before planting.

Transfering the trees over to the planting site.

Rubber boots kept their feet dry.

The logs and planks left behind from the illegal settlers were used as a bridge. It was a balancing act getting over while holding on to the trees.

Fai, Han and their Pa with their trees.
It didn't take them long to plant their trees because the soil was soft and easy to dig. The trees were meant to be planted 6 feet apart but most of the tree were seen planted in clumps 1feet apart due to the impenetrable lalang.

The lalang was 6feet high. These girls got lost and one of them ended up waist deep in blackish peat water. Lots of screaming and laughter could be heard.

Walking back after planting 2 trees - 1 each for Fai and Han.
Han took off his shoes and socks because he couldn't bear them wet, soggy and covered with dirt.

Everyone made a beeline for the ice cream man. The mid-day sun was merciless that day. Fai and Han had 4 sticks of ice creams each.

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