A treasure trove of herbal plants

Lyna Mohammad

Apart from the beautiful tropical rainforest that Brunei Darussalam is famous for, many are not aware about Taman Rekreasi Herba Kampong Putat, a park that offers herbal plants. The park, a popular tourist spot, was closed temporarily when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

Having heard of the park from a fellow colleague, I decided to visit it with others. We were welcomed by Acting Village Head of Kampong Putat Haji Jumat bin Akim on arrival at Kampong Putat, who briefed us before taking us on a tour.

The five-acre hilly piece of land was taken by the Public Works Department initially but Haji Jumat knew that the land had other potential. A lot of ideas were contributed by the village consultative council (MPK) members on how to develop the land. Seeing herbal plants growing in the area gave them an idea to turn the land into a recreational park.

The Acting Village Head proposed the idea to the authority during a roadshow by the Ministry of Development. It was well-received by the senior officials which led Haji Jumat to submit a plan to the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe). After a visit from the department, resting huts were built.

Launched by the former minister of development Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman on June 10, 2010, several facilities such as a stage, a concrete parking area, a concrete jogging track, a hiking trail and restrooms, were constructed by the Brunei-Muara District Office through the Ministry of Home Affairs.

A concrete jogging track surrounded by nature at the Taman Rekreasi Herba Kampong Putat. PHOTOS: MUIZ MATDANI
A resting hut at the Taman Rekreasi Herba Kampong Putat

The stage was used for activities such as cooking local dishes for the tourists and to showcase the village products such as the Tumpi Ranggup Putat and Bahulu Pelangi.

This helped the villagers to generate income.

During the jungle trip, Haji Jumat explained about the plants and their medicinal benefits. The park currently has an additional 80 species of herbs planted by the MPK members.

Some plants such as Tongkat Ali, Pelibas Putih, Pelibas Kuning, Kunyit Hitam, and Ambuk Sikubang were brought in from other districts as well as from overseas.

Kampong Putat is also known for its wide range of herbal and medicinal oil such as Minyak Bidara, Minyak Kunyit Hitam, and Minyak Sirih Merah.

Haji Jumat said they set up the park to create awareness among the community on the importance of biodiversity, instil cooperation among the residents, and to look after plants facing extinction. He said that higher learning institutions can use the park for research purposes about herbal plants.

Haji Jumat hoped that the global pandemic will end soon so the park will be able to resume their activities.