Conserving the Ulu Muda Forests

From Dec 11-17, a team of 14 passionate and energetic Jebsen & Jessen (SEA) staff members met for the first time; the main purpose of them coming together was to help conserve Ulu Muda Forest Reserve in Kedah, Malaysia, by lending a hand to field officers from WWF.

Ulu Muda Forest plays an important role as the water catchment area for the Pedu, Muda and Ahning dams and provide upstream protection to major rivers that supply 80% of drinking water for Penang and Kedah, and to a lesser extent, Perlis.

A remote and isolated forest in the far northern region of the Malaysian peninsula, it is surprisingly unknown to most Malaysians and the outside world, Ulu Muda Forest Reserve (105,060 ha) is the largest of the eight forest reserves within Ulu Muda Forest (160,000 ha) – approximately twice the size of Singapore!

Ulu Muda Forest is one of WWF-Malaysia's three priority protected area project sites in Peninsular Malaysia. Since the late 1990s, WWF-Malaysia has been helping the State Government of Kedah to develop nature tourism in Ulu Muda as an alternative to logging and other more exploitative uses of forests.

A series of exciting field work awaited the team upon arrival; during the five-day’s work trip one of the main objectives was to help WWF in their study and collection of data and photos of the geology, hydrology, flora and fauna of Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.

The team’s first task was to scout for possible trail routes and to identify interesting plants and other features along the route. In a next step, WWF-Malaysia plans to set-up an informative trail for tourists with several interpretive stations along the way. The team was proud to be the first group to blaze a nature trail for Ulu Muda Forest Reserve. Next, the team visited saltlicks, frequently visited by wildlife, and made more than ten plaster casts of wildlife prints including prints of Otters, Tapirs and Samba Deers. The plaster casts will be displayed at the interpretive centre.

As water is the main reason why Ulu Muda Forest is so important, the team helped to conduct a simple water quality test to establish the water’s chemical and physical content. The tests looked at levels of nitrate, phosphorus, dissolve oxygen, pH and turbidity. One of the most challenging and exciting activities was the trekking to recently discovered limestone caves. The new discovery increases the value of Ulu Muda as a conservation area as tropical limestone often harbours flora and fauna that are very restricted in their range.

Ulu Muda is famously known by bird watchers as the only site in Malaysia where the rare and globally endangered hornbill and Plain-pouched hornbill are found in large numbers and where all ten of the Malaysian hornbills species existe. The team was delighted to be able to go on a bird watching trail and river cruise where they spotted three Plain Pouched Hornbill and a White Crown Hornbill.

Following the tradition of all “Meet A Need” trips, the team celebrated their achievements with a fantastic party of South East Asian cultural shows on the last night. 

On the fifth day, the wonderful, exciting, thrilling and down-to-earth trip came to an end. Not only have we helped Ulu Muda, but Ulu Muda has certainly also helped us. Working along with field officers from WWF provided our team with great learning opportunities to learn more about the biodiversity of Ulu Muda Forest Reserve and help raised awareness about caves, birds and water conservation.

Other trips


Marshland and Animal Care Centre - Dec 2013

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Nutrition Centre for Rural Philippine Community - July 2013

Volunteers helped build a nutrition centre, which will enable the community in rural Bohol tackle the problem of malnutrition, especially amongst children  ► Read more

Meet a Need at Mantanani Island  - Dec 2012

Volunteers helped the islanders of Manatani, Sabah to solve one problem: creating a sustanable drinking water supply ► Read more
Building a learning centre - July 2012
Partnered with World Visions, volunteers helped construct a centre for teaching farming and other life skills in Bo Kluea, Thailand ► Read more
Conserving the of Ulu Muda forests - Dec 2011
Volunteers helped conservation efforts in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve in Kedah, Malaysia, by lending a hand to field officers from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). ► Read more

Facilitating clean water access - July 2011

Volunteers travelled to Kirivong in Cambodia to work on the construction of school latrines and rain water tanks for two primary schools. ► Read more

Building a primary school  - Dec 2010

Volunteers travel to the remote mountainous area of Hang Lia commune, North Vietnam, to build two classrooms for a primary school. ► Read more

Saving Javan rhinos  - July 2010

Volunteers support the WWF's work in Ujung Kulong National Park, Indonesia, installing video surveillance and building observation tree houses. ► Read more


What it means to me

Meet a Need is an experience of a lifetime, changing the way staff think and feel about their community and their fellow colleagues. We asked participants to share their most memorable moments; the people they met, what they learned, how the trip changed them and what it was like to work for a greater good.  Read more