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THE ROYAL BELUM STATE PARK FOREST
In the northernmost corner of Perak, 117,500 ha were declared as the Royal Belum State Park by Duli Yang Maha Mulia (DYMM) Sultan Azlan Shah, Sultan of Perak on 31 July 2003. This park is managed by the Perak State Parks Corporation.
The Royal Belum is composed mainly of pristine tropical rainforest, with many river systems, and small grassland areas, some abandoned agricultural plots, and Tasik Temengor, a large man-made lake. Forests found here include lowland dipterocarp, hill dipterocarp and lower montane types with a distinctive northern element as the area borders Thailand. The Royal Belum is part of the larger Belum-Temengor forest landscape, one of the largest blocks of forest in Peninsular Malaysia.
Total coverage of the forest reserve is reported to be about 290,000 hectares. The Royal Belum area is divided into lower and upper sections.The Upper Belum area covers 117,500hectares of inpenetrable jungle which stretches into the Thai-Malaysian border. This vast jungle patch acts as a natural barricade and is gazetted a security zone. Belum and Temenggor the lower part, are reserve parks have been left pretty much intact because the State of Perak has decided to preserve the area as a permanent nature reserve for research. The Upper Belum is of 90% virgin forest whereby the lower half is generally covered by secondary forest. That's a lot of good jungle cover to research on!!!
The areas in Lower Belum that is pegged with huge Meranti, Cengal, Keruing and Merbau species. These are names of rainforest hardwoods that are becoming increasingly rare. The rainforest soil is surprisingly poor in nutrients. Once an area is exposed, the remaining nutrients in the soil easily leaches away and what lies underneath is clay and sand. If you have the time, try digging into the earth. The black, rich soil covers only the top thin layer, underneath is a desert of lifeless base. It is a wonder that anything can grow at all. But it does. This unfaultable ecosystem has been thriving and weathering changes for over 150million years. Many of the large hardwoods you may see around you have survived 150 to 600years of weathering. That is already a heritage worth saving.
Construction of the man made lake and the dam began during the period when communists rein terror in the jungle of Belum. The dam was completed in 1977. It drowned 150 sq km of virgin jungle. The contractors didn't expect the dam to fully flooded within a year. Many construction equipment and heavy vehicles were submerged below the dam. The lake is 80km long and about five kilometres wide. The deepest part could be 124 metres deep at the dam. The lake generates 340Mw of power. Temenggor Lake is now the third largest lake in Malaysia after Bakun and Kenyir Lake.
Belum is rich beyond any comprehension. But how can it be? Many would not be able to identify with the importance of this ecosystem. Many people see the jungle as unkempt backyards that need to be tidied and cleaned up so that we can use it as another playground or work space. That is exactly what happens to many of our pockets of jungles, let's hope that life will be sustained at Belum!
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