CAMERON HIGHLANDS: The age-old Mossy Forest in Gunung Brinchang, famed for its exotic flora and lush mossy carpets, has been closed for a lengthy period due to excessive littering.
No activity is allowed at the boardwalk and inside the forest, including hiking up Gunung Irau, during the closure which will be in place until mid-2016.
The closure, effective yesterday, was announced by the Pahang Forestry Department on its Facebook page.
Its director Datuk Mohd Paiz Kamaruzaman described the need to clean up rubbish in the forest as â€œdesperateâ€.
He said more bins would be placed to help reduce littering, especially at the boardwalk area.
â€œSignboards urging the public to conserve the Mossy Forest will be increased. Maintenance work will be carried out during the closure.
â€œThe closure will also allow the regeneration and rehabilitation of mossy undergrowth, which is the special feature of the site,â€ he said, adding that the department would conduct regular patrols during holiday seasons and weekends
Mohd Paiz said a dialogue with tour operators and NGOs would be held soon to seek their views on ways to conserve the forest.
The move to close the forest did not go down well with some tour guides.
One guide, who wanted to be known only as Bob, 37, blamed local tourists for it.
â€œThere has to be enforcement to prevent people from destroying the site. Offenders should be fined,â€ he said. â€œWhat are we going to promote if the forest is closed?â€
Fellow tour guide K. Subramaniam, 65, said the Malaysians destroyed plants by plucking them.
â€œThey donâ€™t listen to us but European and Middle-Eastern tourists do,â€ he said. â€œSometimes, the foreigners even help clear out the trash.â€
Another tour guide S. Thiru, 48, wanted to see the forest restored to its natural glory.
â€œOur Mossy Forest is one of its kind. Many people liken it to the fantastic forest scenes in The Lord of the Rings and Avatar. Our local film Puteri Gunung Ledang was also filmed there,â€ he added.