Cameron Highlands – if you google this, you will most likely get images of the tea plantations or strawberry farms.
Many locals come up here during the long weekends to enjoy the cool fresh air, beautiful scenery and exploring attractions in Cameron Highlands. Hiking, strawberry-picking, farm-visiting and having steamboat or high tea are all popular activities.
Covered in our post, Mossy forest of Cameron Highlands
But maybe you’ve tried everything at Cameron Highlands already:
And you want to do something different. Or maybe you’re staying there for more than just a few days. Either way, here’s another activity besides visiting farms and tea plantations. Another excuse to stay outdoors~
Tree planting – it’s good for your body, mind and the environment.
The NGO (non-governmental organization) we volunteered at is called REACH. They have quite a few “non-structured” volunteering programmes besides tree planting (English tutoring, environmental studies, administrative work, etc). Openings are not available all the time so do email them if you’re interested.
Tree planting with R.E.A.C.H at Cameron Highlands
I’m not going to give out the location of the hill as it is a private property. Here, they have a couple of furnished cabins for long-term volunteers to stay. These are complete with kitchens. There is a third cabin where the toilets and showers are.
It’s quite a remote area so do bring your own supplies or pick some up from the town before it gets dark.
We didn’t stay the night but the other members were telling us of a story of a big cat prowling outside the cabins at night. It left a footprint which the members made a cast of. I regret not taking a photo of it. It was much bigger than a domestic cat or a Musang (a.k.a Masked Asian Civet Cat) would be.
Tree planting is as straightforward as it sounds. We carried the saplings up the hill. For each sapling, we dug hole about a foot and a half wide and deep. Then, we removed the sapling from its respective bag along with its soil, covered it up with the surrounding soil and watered it.
Our group was around 10 people and by the end of a few hours, we had 30 saplings planted. A very satisfying feeling that was. Probably more so for the REACH members since they already did the hard work of finding the seeds (of different trees) straight from the jungle and growing them into saplings in their backyards until they were mature enough to be relocated.
Imagine if 100 people did this … we’d have a mini forest already @.@
If you don’t want to get your hands dirty…
Go green online with Ecosia
If tree planting isn’t your thing or you’re just too busy, consider changing up your internet browser to Ecosia.
The 30-people strong team is based in Germany and they use >50% of the money gained from their browser to fund local tree planting organizations around the world. They haven’t started any tree-planting sites in Malaysia yet – the closest is Indonesia. I’m sure they will include Malaysia pretty soon.
These are their stats – even as I’m writing this, that main counter is still increasing. Their goal is to reach a billion by 2020.
All you have to do is download the browser extension on their website (real easy) and presto, you’re done. The more searches you do via their browser, the more funds they raise. They even have a little counter that equates your number of searches to the trees that can be planted.
At first, I was skeptical that they were a legit non-profit organization but their monthly reports, vlogs and other documentaries convinced me otherwise. I’ve downloaded the browser extension and Android app (they have ios too) already, making it my default browser on both my phone and laptop. It works no different from Google and I don’t notice any speed difference. It’s a really no-fuss way to make an impact on the environment and still use the internet as you usually would). I don’t see a reason not to use this browser. It’d be great if schools, universities and companies used this too.
Oops, got carried away writing this -I just think more people need to know about Ecosia~ Till the next post, guys!
Update (Nov, 2017): They do have a few more advertisements in the form of suggested websites but that’s not such a big deal.
Update (Mar, 2018): I’ve done 663 searches already. Ecosia is has now planted close to 25 million trees as I’m writing this.
Update (Jun, 2018): Ecosia has now planted 31 million trees!!
Update (Nov, 2018): Close to 50 million now!
Update (Aug, 2020): Close to 104.9 million now!
Do something different from all the other tea-sipping and farm-hopping tourists at Cameron Highlands. Get involved with saving the environment while exploring Cameron Highlands at the same time, one of the most awesome places in Malaysia.
Again, if you want to contact this volunteer-run group, here’s the link to their official website.
Would you volunteer to plant trees in Cameron Highlands? Leave a comment below.