Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) unveiled an interesting tagline- “The University in a Green Forest”. This tagline aptly described the serene and beautiful ambiance of the unique and mesmerizing flora and fauna surrounding UUM campus.
Introduction to University in a Forest – Truly Eco-Friendly Campus
Universiti Utara Malaysia Forest Reserve (UFR) was originally a part of the Sungai Badak Forest Reserve (1945). The forest has become the heart of the country, especially in the State of Kedah Darul Aman. In order to sustain the greenery, the forest was gazetted as Bukit Kachi Forest Reserve in 1988.
In addition, the establishment of UUM in 1984 has led to the name change of this area as UUM Forest Reserve (UFR). In particular, the UFR is 473.56 hectares wide in which 244.16 hectares as secondary forest and 229.40 hectares still remain as virgin forest. UUM’s action of not exploring both these forests in making them as commercial areas such as farming or industrial is solid evidence that proves UUM’s commitment in echoing the hope of the government and world community on the importance of every party of their role to sustain the green environment.
Mixed Dipterocarp Forest (Virgin Forest)
UFR is determined to ensure Mixed Dipterocarp Forest in Northern Kedah State especially in UUM governance which is near the Thailand border have amazing flora composition because it is very different from other areas in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. The characteristics of the vegetation in this area are almost the same as that available in virgin forests in southern Myanmar and southern Thailand. Among the dipterocarp tree species recorded are Shorea guiso, Shorea farinose, Shorea hypochra and many more. Among the non-commercial dipterocarp tree species available here are Intsia palembanica, Koompassia excels, Dillenia grandifolia and many more.
In addition to the virgin forests which is Mixed Dipterocarp Forest, UUM also conserves Schima-Bamboo Forest (secondary forest), which also became part of the University's green story.
Schima-Bamboo Forest (Secondary Forest)
Due to rapid development, part of the Virgin Forest in Sintok was explored and eventually formed the Schima-Bamboo Forest, which was also known as secondary forest. This forest was formed because of logging, agriculture, and grazing activities which were happening at a rapid pace in the 1970s.
Shima-Bamboo forest has two forest strata; upper strata consisting of trees of the dominant species of dipterocarp and lower strata of small trees. Among the trees that grow in this area are Schima wallichii, Dillenia obovate, Cassia nodosa and many more.
UUM with full responsibility will remain committed in ensuring that Mixed Dipterocarp Forest and Schima-Bamboo Forest remain as the pride of UUM, State of Kedah as well as the country.
UUM Campus Landscape
Management and maintenance of UUM campus landscape is done by Agricultural-Landscape-Forestry Unit under Development and Maintenance Department with 21 staff from various category and specialisation.
As a whole, about 20,000 decorative trees of shading types and palm from different species have been planted to furnish UUM campus. These efforts have made the atmosphere of the University campus remain fresh, green and natural, which gives an advantage and peaceful study and work experience. In addition, UUM is currently co-ordinating strategy to make use of existing landscape to create another major product of tourism in Kedah in particular and Northern region in general.
In addition to landscapes, UUM also provides eco - tourism area with recreational activities that are so close to nature through the facilities like sports complex, golf courses, deer park, botanical garden and many more. These facilities have successfully attracted tourists from around the region and outside with the number rising from year to year.
Commitment & Recognition Received by UUM in National Green Agenda
UUM since its inception has always been active in supporting the Government's agenda where in 1995, tree planting project was carried out. The implementation of this project was from the allocation for Recreational Projects in the Sixth Malaysia Plan (RMK6). The cost involved of RM450, 043.65 and an area of 120 hectares. Specifically 50300 Teja trees and 8164 Karas trees have been planted.
In addition to Teja and Karas tree planting, UUM also planted several types of forest trees such as Teak (Tectona grandis) and Mahagony (Khaya senegalensis) in a number of areas within the campus. Principal amount of teak trees today is 900 and Mahagony 500. Today the value of the existing and replanted trees worth millions of ringgit. In particular, virgin forest of UFR has a gross volume of timber resources of 18,453 m3.
Today, UFR remains as a source of clean and fresh air to nearly 20,000 UUM students and staff. Interestingly, the University located in green forest has produced more than 100,000 graduates. They have been raised in the formal and informal education for 4 years at UUM to become leader, and mindful of the need to defend the beauty and greenery environment wherever they are.
In terms of recognition, UUM has been declared as the Champion in National Level Best Landscape Competition for the category of College/Educational/Training Institution in 2001. The prize for this competition was RM5000 cash, a certificate with plaque was presented by the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in celebration of National Landscape Day at the Esplanade, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Kuala Lumpur on 3 March 2002.
The victory was the result of UUM’s commitment in ensuring landscape and environment, the design and arrangement of the landscape, maintenance, cleanliness and beauty of the University area as the best in the country. In other words, UUM will remain committed and maintain itself as A University In A Forest – A Truly Eco-Friendly Campus.