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May 23, 2012

Forest by the Coast

Sungai Menyala park in Port Dickson to open to the public next month

By SARBAN SINGH
sarbans@thestar.com.my

TOURISTS will have another reason to visit Port Dickson when the 1,300ha Sungai Menyala lowland forest park opens its doors to the public next month.

The park, believed to be one-of-its-kind in this part of the country, is also an “eco-edutourism” centre — apart from promoting eco-tourism activities — it also doubles up as a research centre for those who wish to know more about tropical forests.

Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said the new attraction would be promoted as a “forest in the city” product and would be a boon for tourism in the state.

Lowland tropical rainforest grows on flat lands at elevations generally less than 1,000m.

This forest is taller and more diverse than forest on higher ground and far more threatened because of its accessibility, more suitable soils for agriculture, and more hardwoods valuable as timber.

“We will also have a 500m-long Skyway built 30m from the ground. There will be an observation tower built 50m from the ground from where visitors can enjoy a view of flora and fauna in the park,” he said.

images/Green%20Integration.jpg
Green integration: Structures in the park are built without causing any damage to the forest surroundings.
Mohamad said the park would have lodging facilities for visitors who wish to put up for the night.

“There will be meeting rooms, a hall and a library for forest researchers,” he said.

Mohamad said the opening of the park would complement efforts to turn Port Dickson into a more complete tourism destination.

“We have serene beaches and soon we will have a cable car project linking the resort town to Pulau Arang. We want tourists to experience the beaches as well as the tropical forests when in Port Dickson,” he said.

Mohamad said a section of the park would be turned into a centre to educate tourists on the orang asli community.

images/Century%20old%20Jelutong%20Tree.jpg
Look up: The century-old 50m tall Jelutong tree is a crowd-puller.
He said there were many orang asli tribes who lived in different parts of the country.

“Orang asli have their unique way of living, taboos as well as beliefs. We have set up a section to educate the people on their way of living, their culture and traditions,” he said.

Mohamad also urged hoteliers and those involved in the tourism sector to take advantage from the opening of the new park to attract tourists to Port Dickson.

State Forestry Department head Ahmad Fadzil Abdul Majid said to date, only personnel from government departments and agencies had used the facilities at the park for their course work.

“We will increase the number of employees when the place is open to the public,” he said, adding that the department would also provide guides to assist those who wish to know more about the interesting characteristics in the forest.

Ahmad Fadzil said the department had spent some RM5mil to build the facilities in the park which were largely built out of timber.

“We will need more funds to complete the works planned for the park including the construction of the Skyway project,” he said.

He said some 15% of the forest was made up of a mangrove swamp and this further enriched its biodiversity.

“In fact, we have a 50m tall Jelutong tree which is more than 100 years old which will definitely be an attraction to visitors. The diameter of the tree has increased to 190cm from 188cm a year ago,” he said.

The park is located some 30km from Seremban and visitors can get there via the Seremban-Port Dickson highway.

To get there, turn left at the Port Dickson/Linggi/Siliau junction along the highway and drive less than 2km towards Sua Betong.


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