Colour of greed marring Perak’s natural heritage

An aerial view of the Kledang Saoing hills showing how land has been cleared near Taman Chepor Sentosa. — Filepic

THE Ipoh skyline is transforming rapidly with tall structures changing the face of this once quiet city.

High-rise commercial and residential projects are coming up in the city that tin built.

At the same time, Ipoh is blessed with beautiful limestone hills with 18 sites being part of the Kinta Valley National Geopark.

Recently, residents and environmental groups have protested against the development of land they claim is part of a forest reserve and located within the geopark.

Logging and land clearing on Kledang Saiong hill within the geopark is creating fear among residents of nearby Taman Chepor Sentosa who are calling for the authorities to put a stop to the project.

They fear that the activities on the 151.49ha land would not only affect the flora and fauna on the hills, but also their safety.

Not long after, residents of Meru Valley Golf Resort objected to a development project at a forest reserve adjacent to the resort.

They said the 18.6ha green lung was part of the Kledang Saiong Permanent Forest Reserve.

It is also one of the 10 projects proposed under the Ipoh Local Plan 2020, and Perak MCA has been urging the public to object to the projects, noting that open spaces and greenery were disappearing.

When queried on the concerns of Taman Chepor Sentosa residents, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said the state was looking for a win-win solution to resolve the land clearing issue affecting at least 1,000 residents.

Claiming that the project was approved years before his administration, he assured that a solution benefiting developers and residents would be found.

Many, including the residents, are questioning why the project was not scrapped when the new government took over.

They are of the opinion that being part of the geopark or forest reserve, no development should take place there.

Such forests should be preserved as they are home to wildlife and flora.

Even Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah expressed worry. He recently lamented how much nature has suffered at the hands of mankind.

The forests and trees, he said, played a vital role in containing climate change and global warming, apart from providing protection to water sources, reducing soil erosion and preventing floods.

All these were no longer prioritised, and forests were viewed as sources of timber to be sold for profit, leading to rampant logging spurred by greed, he added.

Everyone, including politicians must truly understand what global warming, environmental conservation and climate change is all about. It is pointless to keep mentioning these terms, when one does not practise them.

We must make sense of these terms and play a role in caring for natural resources like animals, hills, water and plants.

History has an important lesson for humanity and civilisations, that disaster can befall if we do not respect the environment.

With landslides and floods a frequent occurrence in the country, this points to our failure to come to terms with the environment.

The lessons of previous disasters have not been learnt and absorbed.

It is necessary for us to ask ourselves what needs to be done to protect the environment.

Not everything boils down to profit, what is more important is to preserve nature and prevent Mother Earth from getting angry.

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