Protect the Largest Living Gene Bank of Rainforest Trees!

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Two million rainforest trees within a 200-acre Rainforest Tree Nursery in Tanjung Malim, containing possibly the largest living gene bank of rainforest trees in Asia (possibly the world) is being destroyed and bulldozed by the Perak Corporation Bhd, a state government-linked company under the Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Perak. 

The rainforest nursery (Penawar Hutan) in Malaysia contained an estimated 1200 forest species, many of which are rare, endemic and endangered. These were collected and grown painstakingly over the past 20 years by Malaysian tree guru James Kingham, 84, often with the help of the Orang Asli (indigenous peoples of Malaysia) and park rangers. 

In 2008, James helped transform a 7.5 hectares barren piece of land into a gene bank for endangered jungle plants, called the Lagoon Tree (Kingham-Cooper) Reserve with oil palm planter Geoffrey Cooper. The area now resembles natural thick jungle with over 250 diverse species of trees. But this is small compared to the one in Tanjung Malim. 

At press time, about 80-100 acres have been destroyed by bulldozers. We urged the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of Perak to look into this matter and stop this destruction immediately!

There must be recognition that the living gene bank is not only a national heritage, but a world heritage that belongs to all humanity. In the rainforest nursery, are diverse and exotic forest fruit trees that most people in our generation have never seen or heard of. These fruit trees create living habitats for local wildlife - bees, birds, and many endangered species - that altogether make up a resilient ecosystem to survive climate change. There are tree roots, tree bark and leaves that have potent medicinal values that science has no time to research.

As our natural forests are being cleared and depleted for development, this precious living gene bank containing an immense biodiversity must be protected at all cost!

The importance of living gene banks such as this rainforest nursery must not be under-estimated. As climate change and global warming are wrecking havoc to our weather systems, the survival of humanity depends on the adaptability and resilience of the ecosystem in weathering the storms of unpredictable change. Food security will be challenged. New diseases like the Covid-19 will become frequent epidemics. 

This is when we turn to our living gene banks - our biodiversity of forest trees that provide food and habitat, that provide medicines and clean water. 

We urge all those who are responsible to cease the destruction of our living gene bank - the James Kingham's Rainforest Nursery (Penawar Hutan) and make it a national heritage and a protected area that is the pride of Perak Darul Ridzuan for posterity!