Development ravages Cameron Highlands

Rampant farm, hotel development has upset the area's ecological balance

[TANAH RATA, Malaysia] On a Malaysian ridge-top, R Ramakrishnan scans a rugged landscape famed in British colonial times as a fresh-aired slice of England in the tropics, but he sees a paradise lost.

Illegal farms covered in unsightly plastic sheeting stretch into the distance along the steep slopes of the Cameron Highlands as bulldozers mow down nearby forests.

"Everyone is grabbing land. There is a free-for-all," the local environmental activist said as chainsaws growled.

Perched more than 1,000 metres high on Malaysia's central spine, the Cameron Highlands emerged as the country's first tourist destination during early 20th century British rule.

Known by some as a "Little England", it was beloved...

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