Dr Muhammad Amin (left) and Roslan planting mangrove tree samplings.
ABOUT 1,502ha of mangrove forest in Kuala Gula, near Kuala Kurau in Kerian, has been gazetted for rehabilitation and reforestation.
Perak Environment Committee chairman Datuk Dr Muhammad Amin Zakaria said the decision to gazette the Teluk Rubiah Forest Reserve was to protect it from being encroached by unscrupulous people.
“The approval was made by the state on April 23.
“This was in light of recent reports in the electronic and print media of some illegal developments there,” he told journalists after launching a tree planting ceremony at the mangrove forest reserve recently.
“We were in fact in the process of gazetting the area when the illegal development activity took place,” he said.
It was previously reported in The Star in February that land clearing activities had been taking place at the mangrove forest, one of Malaysia’s biggest mangrove ecosystems.
It was claimed that about 6ha of mangroves had been cleared to pave the way for the construction of a shrimp farm.
The area was near the popular Kuala Gula bird sanctuary, where an estimated 200,000 birds make a brief stop during the migration season between August and April every year.
Dr Muhammad Amin said fishermen could still catch crabs, prawns, shellfish and fishes in the area but logging is forbidden.
“Locals can still catch fishes or shellfish as long as they don’t contravene the National Forestry Act 1984 (Act 313),” he said, adding that fishermen can catch some 20kg of prawns daily.
On the programme, Dr Muhammad Amin said about 500 mangrove tree saplings were planted at the cleared site in the forest reserve.
“This programme is continuous and the state is very concerned about the condition of the mangrove forests here,” he said, adding that the Kuala Gula mangrove forest was recognised as one of the best managed forests in the world.
About 50 people, including Kampung Kuala Gula villagers, civil servants and non-governmental organisation Friends of Mangroves and Global Environment Centre members took part in the event.
State Forestry Department director Datuk Roslan Ariffin said apart from the Teluk Rubiah Forest Reserve, two other mangrove forests have also been gazetted in November last year.
He said the 153ha Fireflies Forest Reserve (Hutan Simpan Kelip-kelip) was gazetted to preserve the habitat and conservation of the insects.
“The firefly sanctuary in Kampung Dew is iconic and we need to preserve it,” he said.
“The 850ha Lekir Forest was gazetted as a buffer zone and for reforestation purposes,” he added.