FULFILLING THE VISION FOR A PEOPLE’S FOREST – CONNECTING WITH WIDER COMMUNITY TO SAFEGUARD THE FOREST AND ENSURE FUTURE SUSTAINABILITY
Executive Summary

The Kota Damansara Community Forest Reserve (KDCFR) is one of the last remnants of lowland dipterocarp forests remaining in the Klang Valley. This forest block was saved from housing development plans due to the concerted efforts of local residents and support from previous GEF-SGP grants. With the KDCFR officially gazetted as of 18 February 2010 (Sel GN 398/2010), the focus can now shift from defense of the forest to planning for balanced use for conservation, education and research, as well as recreational use. Co-management of the Forest Reserve has been a condition of the gazettement and this commitment was affirmed by the Selangor Forestry Department at the closing Workshop of the previous GEF-SGP project. The KDCF Society was formally established in 3 Dec 2011 in response to the call for a credible and consultative community counterpart to help protect and manage this important urban community Forest Reserve. It comprises members from local Residents’ Associations, key environmental, recreation and education NGOs, as well as ordinary residents and supporters.

The first steps towards this collaborative effort have already begun. The Selangor Forestry Department has engaged the town planning firm PAG Consult Sdn Bhd to formulate a management plan for the Reserve. The KDCF Society has been cooperating fully with the studies and consultations in conjunction with key partners such as YAWA, TRAKS and MNS. The forest management plan is being developed along the lines of recommendations from the previous GEF-SGP project completed in 2010. With the completed Plan we will soon have a collectively agreed upon blueprint for zoning areas for restricted access, expanding the trail network, and developing visitor amenities at key access points. KDCF Society and its partners have continued to maintain all the trails and environmental education boards since their establishment.

At this critical juncture, it is important that KDCF Society is able to play a strategic role in monitoring the development process and formalizing a meaningful platform for community participation. Enlarging our community of regular users is an effective strategy to nurture a vocal support base should the need arise to protect the Reserve from commercial interests - it remains highly-coveted prime real estate. Since the gazettement, basic facilities and proper street signage have not yet been set up. One of the reasons given is that the budget allocation for recreational forests in Selangor is very small. It is anticipated that with the completion of the KDCFR Management Plan, there will be a clearer framework for development and for receiving government funding for infrastructure development.

Presently, the lack of visible improvement to the KDCFR can be viewed both as a challenge and an opportunity. If KDCF Society is able to demonstrate its commitment, credibility and capacity to harness the support of its members and supporters to manage the Reserve, it can strengthen its position as a forest manager. Sustained attention and resources are needed to implement improvements to signage and visitor information, expand the trail network, more effectively engage local communities and schools, and finally, make connections with the business community and private sector to enlist their support for the Reserve. A GEF-SGP grant of RM150,000 is being sought will assist the KDCF Society to work towards these goals. It will be implemented by KDCF Society together with its partners; each will be contributing in-kind support to the value of RM181,000 and seek additional cash contributions through fundraising efforts to the value of RM61,000.

Objectives:


1. To enable KDCF Society members and partners to effectively co-manage the Forest Reserve and play a lead role in the implementation of the soon to be finalised KDCF Management Plan.
2. To use plans to extend the network of low-impact trails and rehabilitate forest to connect residents, students, special interest groups and other recreational user groups to participate in volunteer trail-building and maintenance activities. This involvement nurtures a greater sense of ownership toward the Reserve (about 8 km of trails are planned over 20 months).
3. To continue to provide a platform to engage with the Temuan Orang Asli community who will have a role in implementing the trail-building and maintenance programme while developing their own projects related to enhancing appreciation of indigenous cultural heritage.
4. To develop effective tools for communication and outreach.
5. To engage students from nearby schools and colleges to participate in KDCFR activities.
6. To engage the business community to support for the implementation of the KDCF Management Plan.

A number of activities are proposed under the following components:

(1) Communications and awareness programme
This component will ensure that information materials on the KDCF are readily available through a variety of media to boost awareness of the importance of the Forest Reserve, and the potential to be involved in various activities and volunteer programmes.
(2) Public events
Open Days and public events are part of the tradition of the KDCF. Historically it was such events that helped harness grassroots support that contributed to the Reserve’s eventual gazettement. These carnival-style gatherings which appeal to all ages and interest groups add to the life of the community and also provide an opportunity for local residents to introduce the Reserve to friends and family outside the area. KDCF Society will be able to call upon its partner organisations to help run a variety of activities according to their various specialisations. GEF-SGP funds will not be used for the event, but the event will have a useful role in communicating the focus on initiatives under this project and engage greater public participation. The Society will organise its own fund raising activities and enlist in-kind support from its partners.
(3) Honorary Forest Monitor and Guide programme
Local residents and regular users of the Forest Reserve are well-placed to help monitor and deter illegal activities in the Reserve such as littering, lighting fires, poaching animals or stealing plants.
This programme will enable suitable individuals to play an active role by conducting training on activities that are not allowed in the Reserve and specific techniques for educating forest users of activities that are not permissible. In addition, due to their demonstrated interest in the forest, such individuals would also serve as excellent guides for people new to the trails.
(4) Trail development, signage and visitor amenities
Expansion of the KDCFR trail network is an integral component of the overall strategy to engage the community and safeguard the future of the Reserve. The trails have a number of visionary and practical functions; they:-
• provide a tangible initiative to involve in the community in voluntarism which has a role in nurturing appreciation and concern for the Forest Reserve
• make the KDCFR more accessible and attractive to nature lovers, recreationists and tourists seeking to immerse themselves in a lowland forest setting
• generate income earning opportunities for Temuan Orang Asli and other forest guides; hosted visits can also serve as a source of recurring income for KDCF Society
• facilitate easier monitoring of the KDCFR by Forestry Officers and Honorary Forest Monitors
• facilitating access to designated research sites for biodiversity and forest regeneration studies by authorized researchers
• provide an attractive, tangible, and measurable output that can be launched and named to acknowledge the contribution of the corporate sponsors or grant givers
• pre-empt the pressure for a more damaging road networks and unsuitable trail systems that would disrupt the forest ecosystem
(5) Environmental Education component
The Section 10 Secondary School located opposite the entrance to the KDCFR already has a Kelab Pencinta Alam, but the students have not yet been actively involved in activities in the Forest Reserve. The same is also true of the Section 9 Primary School. This is seen as a missed opportunity that should be rectified. The Environmental Education (EE) component will engage these students by working through the existing Kelab Pencinta Alam and the Parent Teachers’ Associations to involve students and their families in forest activities. Most of them come from nearby residential areas.

This component will be implemented mainly by YAWA which has extensive experience in EE and MNS which helps oversee the Kelab Pencinta Alam. It will also seek to engage students from nearby colleges and others expressing interest in participating in the community-based activities in KDCFR.
(6) Membership, marketing and sustainability component
KDCF Society is a membership based organisation and its strength is based on being able to demonstrate a large and representative member base. This is especially important should the KDCFR come under threat again in the future. This component deals with developing strategies for seeking greater private sector participation in order to secure long-term financial sustainability for the KDCFR. Most of this component will be funded by KDCF Society and its supporters.
(7) Capacity building for Temuan partner organisation
KDCF Society is committed to working with the newly established Persatuan Kaum Temuan Berwawasan Selangor in order to enable it to become a viable organisation with the confidence and capacity to undertake constructive programmes for the benefit of their community. This component will involve the members of this group in evaluating the socio-economic and environmental challenges faced, and map out workable strategies and plans of action to improve opportunities and prospects based on their own interests and priorities.

Expected Outputs:


1. The KDCF Management Plan completed and approved for implementation.
2. A Co-Management Committee established and regular meetings and consultations held with Forestry Department and MBPJ.
3. At least 8 km of trails constructed with the participation of volunteers, Temuan partners and corporate sponsors and support from other charitable foundations.
4. Partners from the Temuan community are integrated into the management and promotion of the KDCF and their organisation is strengthened through ongoing coaching and support from the KDCF Society.
5. At least 400 KDCF Society members registered within the 20-month period.
6. A target of RM56,000 raised through corporate sponsorship and other grants or awards.
7. A target of 6 CSR activities to be completed in the 20-month period.
8. A strong communications and awareness programme to be established to ensure that all major RAs and partner organisations are given regular updates on developments and activities in the KDCF, and appreciation is recorded for supporters and contributors.
9. The KDCF is properly denoted in planning maps (such as the Petaling Jaya Local Plan) as a fully protected forest and all proposed development in the surrounding areas do not impact the forest.
10. Student members of the Kelab Pencinta Alam from the Sec. 10 Secondary School to be engaged in the regular upkeep of the trails, and also engaged in regular special forest-related activities.

11. An initial target of 12 Honorary Monitors and Guides from the local community and regular user groups trained and certified. They will serve as volunteer guides, and ensure forest use rules are adhered to.
12. A target of five Orang Asli members to undergo Nature Guide Training by DWNP and to be given the opportunity to test their skills by host 2 visiting groups.
13. Earth Day April 2013 will be celebrated at the KDCF with the participation of the different target groups in addition to Green Community Day@ KDCF in December 2013 and 2014. At least 1,500 people targeted to attend Earth Day in 2013.
14. Persatuan Kaum Temuan Berwawasan, Selangor to become firmly established and have its goals and objectives mapped out based on a participatory planning process. They should also be able to submit their own project proposal for GEF-SGP funding.

 

Project Snapshot

Grantee: PERSATUAN RIMBA KOMUNITI KOTA DAMANSARA
Country: Malaysia
Area Of Work: Biodiversity
Operational Phase: Phase 5
Grant Amount: US$ 50,000.00
Co-Financing Cash: US$ 27,333.00
Co-Financing in-Kind: US$ 60,333.00
Project Number: MAL/SGP/OP5/Y2/STAR/BD/12/18
Start Date: 11/2012
End Date: 9/2014
Status: Satisfactorily Completed