Revoke, not postpone Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve degazettement, says NGOs

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MORE non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are calling out the state government to revoke in entirety the decision of the degazettement on 536.7ha of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) for development.

The Coalition for the Protection of Selangor Forests (CPSFs) calls for urgent action to revoke the degazettement of KLNFR and take action against the Selangor State Agriculture Corp (PKPS) for the illegal clearance of part of the 308-ha peat swamp forest recently gazetted to partly “replace” KLNFR.

“The statement by the state government at the state assembly that there are no tall trees in the KLNFR is false. The area to be degazetted in KLNFR is dominated by forests of tall, diverse, rain forest trees of critical conservation importance and must be conserved,” CPSFs said in a statement yesterday.

It alleged that PKPS twice destroyed portions of the forest, now designated as Sungai Panjang Forest Reserve.

“The corporation is currently facing legal action by the Department of Environment for clearing the forest without having first undertaken an environmental impact assessment,” CPSFs said.

The coalition also called for the Selangor Mentri Besar (MB) and excos to conduct a site visit, together with CPSFs and the Orang Asli, to see the quality of the forest cover in KLNFR especially the 537ha degazetted area.

The issue over the degazettement of the forest reserve was during Monday’s state assembly sitting on Aug 30, as the state exco Hee Loy Sian revealed that the government had agreed in May to degazette 536.7ha of the forest for development.

This had led to public outcry, where many questioned the transparency on the decision.

The total of the area that has been approved for degazettement is 54% from the original 931.17ha.

Selangor MB Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari has given an assurance to postpone the decision to degazette the KLNFR until the state government has completed its consideration and clarification of all issues raised.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) communications director Fahmi Fadzil said the party was satisfied with the assurance after receiving an explanation from MB and Hee in a meeting last week.

The Malaysian Environmental NGOS (MENGO) pointed out that although the MB has promised to postpone the degazettement until all issues raised have been clarified, the state government has in fact already degazetted the area as notified in the government of Selangor Gazette.

MENGO calls for the state government to be transparent and share with the public the expert opinion and study conducted by a consultant that forms this rationale,” it said in a statement.

“The KLNFR is not merely a piece of land. It was gazetted in 1927, and covered almost 7,247ha at the time. Today, only 957.63ha are left, out of which the state government approved to degazette 536.7ha as per its proposal for mixed development purposes,” it said.

MENGO also urged the Selangor state government to continue to restore the forest and fire prevention works to bring back the value of the forest with the help of Selangor Forestry Department, NGOs, corporates and the indigenous community.

Selangor had approved a total of 581.48ha of land in the districts of Sabak Bernam, Hulu Selangor, and Hulu Langat had been approved as replacement areas for the Permanent Reserve Forest.

“We wish to support the notion that these stateland forests should indeed be gazetted, but that they should not be gazetted as replacement of the lost forest in the KLNFR.

“In view of its importance, MENGO calls on the Selangor state government to stop any forest clearing from happening at the exercise area and reverse its decision and regazette it as a forest reserve,” the NGO added.