Bukit Larut, Taiping and Ecotourism

Taiping – A historic town located in northern Perak Malaysia, was once prospered for discovery of Tin deposits and development of tin mine industry in 19th century. Taiping was also one of the pioneers in municipal government in the Malay States. At that time, Taiping was already had the economy and social features which are commonly found in modern states today, such as Maxwell Hill – the 1st Hill Resort, Swimming Pool, Mosque, Rest House, Magistrate Court, Resident’s House, Port, English School, Police Force, Government Offices, Post and Telegraph Office, Lake Gardens, General Hospital, Club House, Museum, Market building, Prison, Railway Track, Railway Station, Turf club, Anglican Church, English Girl’s School and Clock Tower, to name but a few.

Despite myriad historical achievements, Taiping – as the name implies – remains CALM, has little development after the second World War.

Bukit Larut – Founded by Straights Settlement officer William Edward Maxwell in 19th century. Bukit Larut also known as Maxwell Hill, is the oldest, smallest and least disturbed hill resort in Malaysia. At 1,250M above sea level, with temperature ranging from 15 ~ 25 degrees Celsius, and annual rainfall of over 5,000mm, it is the wettest place in Malaysia.

Bukit Larut is designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) Rank 1 and a Flora and Fauna Reserve by the Federal Government of Malaysia. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has placed it under Category 1 Strict Nature Reserve, while the United Nations Environmental Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP WCMC) has declared Bukit Larut an area of great ecological and botanical importance.

Botanical studies have documented the existence of some 1,980 species of flowering plants from 123 families. Some 250 species of birds, including migratory birds from Indochina and East Asia, have been seasonally sighted. A new species of lizard was discovered here in 2001.

The surrounding areas are among the last sanctuaries for large mammals like the Malayan Sun Bear, Panther and the elusive clouded Leopard. Monkeys, Mousedeers, Civets and Porcupines that roam in the nearby forests serve as their food source.

Ecotourism – also known as Ecological Tourism. Ecotourism involves travel to natural destinations, which shall:

• Minimizes environmental impact and builds awareness

• Creation of economic opportunities for local communities

• Provides direct financial benefits for conservation

• Provides financial benefits for local people

• Respects local culture

• Conserve heritage

Ecotourism shall, however, include programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment. Thus is the promotion of reduce, reuse of resources, such as water conservation, shall be integral part of ecotourism.

Balancing between development and environmental conservation is always a challenging task. For Taiping, despite it’s prosperity in the past, one of the least developed towns in Malaysia today. To promote Taiping and Bukit Larut to be an Ecotourism destination is again a good initiative and encouraging.

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