Belum Conservation Malaysia (BCM) recently celebrated its 10th anniversary by planting 300 gaharu trees in the Belum-Temenggor Rainforest Complex.

The ceremony, held at the Belum Rainforest Resort on Pulau Banding in Gerik, Perak on July 9, saw a number of personalities present, including Datuk Yasmin Yusoff, Jaclyn Victor, Vince Chong, Elvira Arul and Singapore’s Art Fazil.

The celebrities planted a portion of the 300 gaharu trees (sponsored by an anonymous donor) and pledged their support for environmental conservation via BCM’s Belum Forest Friends (BFF) initiative.

The BFF initiative was launched earlier this year as part of an overall drive to get more Malaysians actively involved in rainforest conservation.

Gaharu trees, or agarwood, are among the rarest trees in our rainforests, much sought-after by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries for their bark and resin.

Since the launch of the BFF initiative, BCM has roped in 46 celebrities, individuals, business leaders and organisations as a Belum Forest Friend.

Belum-Temenggor

Yasmin planting a gaharu tree.

The initiative offers members two sponsorship options — for a minimum fee of RM100, BFFs can choose to support either a gaharu tree-planting programme managed by the Pulau Banding Foundation (PBF) or contribute to EMKAY Foundation’s school uniform donation drive.

The school uniforms for the orang asli children are sewn by orang asli mothers under a sewing programme initiated by the EMKAY Foundation at Kg Semelor. The programme aims to provide income opportunities for the womenfolk as well as teach them skill-based activities.

The goal of the school uniform drive is to encourage more orang asli kids to attend, as well as stay, in school as logistical challenges hinder the kids from going to school.

The BFF initiative has so far managed to raise sponsorship for 40 school uniforms, contributing to Yayasan EMKAY’s target of 600 sets of school uniforms for the orang asli children.

Art (centre) with Jaclyn and Elvira leading the orang asli students in a song at the toy library of Kampung Semelor, Temenggor, Perak.

“We encourage the public to step forth and sign up as a BFF with a minimum fee. This will go a long way for our rainforest friends and family,” said Datuk Fazwinna Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal, executive director of EMKAY Group, in a press release.

“For 10 years, Belum Conservation Malaysia has championed sustainable development here in Belum-Temenggor. Through our partnerships with NGOs like WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and MNS (Malaysian Nature Society), and local stakeholders such as the orang asli community, we pray that our efforts here will ensure a better future for this generation as well as the next.

“I sincerely hope that all Malaysians will stand with us and one day look back and be proud of what little we each have contributed for the betterment of those who don’t have a voice, especially the animals and trees that are threatened by destruction brought on by mankind,” added Datuk Fazwinna, who is also a BCM executive committee member.

At a sewing workshop for orang asli women in Kampung Semelor in Temenggor, Perak, set up by Yayasan Emkay.

The main driver for the tree-planting activity is PBF, a non-profit organisation that promotes ecotourism and sustainable financing for rainforest preservation.

Earlier this year, it set a target of 1,000 gaharu trees planted. As of July, the number of trees planted stood at 1,500. Having met the initial target, PBF has now increased it to 2,000 gaharu trees by December 2018.

BCM is a subsidiary of the EMKAY Group and since its establishment, has engaged in various projects to promote ecotourism, rainforest rehabilitation and preservation, and social outreach to the indigenous communities of the Belum-Temenggor Rainforest Complex.

These efforts are carried out through the EMKAY Foundation and PBF.

To plant a tree of your own and to sponsor a uniform for one Orang Asli child at Belum-Temengor, visit www.brainsfeed.org and click on the BFF link at the top of the page. For more information, you may also contact Nadiah Raha at 012 316 0970/nadiahraha@emkay.com.my.