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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13, 2015:

Visitors continue to encroach into the mossy forest in Gunung Brinchang despite a directive by the state Forestry Department closing it for six months.

A Forestry Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said visitors had been bypassing a temporary metal barrier put up to prevent entry to the mossy forest boardwalk area.

A signboard at the entrance to the boardwalk, warning visitors not to enter without permission, has largely been ignored.

“They are led by local tour guides who blatantly flout the rule as business can be quite lucrative.

“They charge between RM75 and RM100 per head, depending on the tour package itineraries and the four-wheel vehicles that can transport up to 10 people at one go.

“The local tour operators should understand that the mossy forest is in a bad shape and needs time to recover. However, these tour operators have decided to make quick money instead,” said the officer when met by The Rakyat Post in Gunung Brinchang recently.

He said the Forestry Department struggled to maintain the mossy forest due to rampant dumping of rubbish by visitors, while tour operators contributed nothing to help in the upkeep of the environment.

Meanwhile, Regional Environmental Awareness of Cameron Highlands (REACH) president Ramakrishnan Ramasamy said the tour operators have a duty to remind visitors not to climb trees or step out of the boardwalk as it would damage the moss.

“Mossy forests takes a long time to recover once they have been damaged.

“Tour operators must consider the long-term interest of the public rather than making quick bucks at the expense of Mother Nature.

“Just wait several months and the boardwalk will be reopened again and they can resume their tours,” he said.

Ramasamy reminded that anyone caught encroaching into the forest reserve may be charged under Section 47 (1)(b) Enactment (Adoption) National Forestry Act 1985.

If convicted, one can be liable to a fine of up to RM10,000 or jailed up to three years or both.

No activity is allowed at the boardwalk and in the mossy forest, a popular destination for hikers climbing Gunung Irau.

The closure is effective until mid-2016, starting from early October as announced by the Pahang Forestry Department on its Facebook page

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