SIBU: The damaged plank walk of Bukit Lima Forest Reserve Park – the green lung of Sibu – has been restored. A portion of it and the forest was burnt during a bush fire last July.
Since the environmental tragedy, those who frequent the park for exercise and leisure had to go elsewhere to continue their pursuits.
With the plank walk now restored, thanks to Ta Ann Holdings Berhad, town folk are back with their jogging shoes, and birds are chirping in the park, again.
Ta Ann Corporate Media Division chief, Shannon Yii, told the press here on Thursday that they were still doing some patching ups to “make this a commended forest reserve in Sarawak”.
Former public health minister Datuk Dr Soon Choon Teck, Forest Department senior assistant director Hii Tow Peck, and Forest Department (Nature Conservation and Constitution Division) officer Azahari Omar were also present.
Dr Soon, formerly Dudong assemblyman, commented that Ta Ann, under its chief executive officer (CEO) Dato Wong Kuo Hea, had done well for the community.
“This (restoration) is a great effort that not only Sibu folk will appreciate but also visitors who have fallen in love with the green park. They have helped to spread the name of Sibu and the forest park.”
Dr Soon said when the fire razed the area in July, everyone thought their favourite plank walk was history.
“Now, the folk are back and enjoying the natural flora and fauna.”
Yii said 218.38 hectares of the peat swamp at Bukit Lima Forest Park was opened in January 2001.
“It is home for countless species of birds, mammals, and plants.”
He said Bukit Lima Forest Park was the ‘green lung’ of Sibu and a favourite recreational ground for many health conscious and nature loving residents.
“It is also a living laboratory for researchers studying tropical rainforest flora and fauna.”
He said the more than 1km of the Belian (a type of hardwood) plank walk upgraded by Sarawak Timber Association in 2010 was destroyed by the fire, and the park was subsequently closed.
“Responding to the cry of the people, Ta Ann dispatched its fire-fighting team to help douse the fire.”
“Being a part of the Sibu community, we dispatched our manpower and resources to reconstruct the burnt sections.
“We also planted Kelampayan seedlings at the burnt patches of the forest reserve.”
He said Kelampayan seedlings were chosen because they can mature in between 12 and 13 years.
“Just imagine. Another decade or so, the canopy will be back to provide shade for the runners.”
Yii said after consulting the state forestry director, they dug a water canal along the park’s boundary to serve as fire breaks and excavate strategic locations as water reservoirs for fire-fighting purposes.
“These works were completed on July 21 this year. The works included excavation of water canal of 2,000 metres, de-silting existing drains of 4,400 metres, excavation of seven mini ponds, and clearing and stacking of burnt debris in fire ravaged areas.”
The forestry department also agreed to Ta Ann’s proposal to set up a fire depot in the park to house a specially designed fire-fighting tractor and other fire-fighting equipment.
The present toilet, he said, would be converted into a fire depot and a new toilet would be constructed next to the security office.