THE Protect the Selangor Forests Coalition wants objection to degazetting the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) extended to residents living outside the Kuala Langat district.
Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES) director Leela Panikkar, in a statement on behalf of the coalition, urged that the
objection should not be restricted to Kuala Langat residents as stated in the Public Inquiry (Selangor) Rules 2014 and the National Forestry Act (Adoption) Enactment 1985.
“The degazettement of any forest in Malaysia is a national issue that should involve everyone.
“Forests are a natural treasure, common heritage and very important to wildlife habitats because they help filter water and air, absorb carbon and reduce soil erosion.
“We hope the Selangor Forestry Depart-ment can comply with this rule and receive objections from all stakeholders, and not only Kuala Langat residents, ” she said.
StarMetro reported on Feb 18 that the KLNRF was under threat of degazettement that could reduce the presently protected 958ha to a mere 28ha.
If the state government proceeds with its proposal to degazette some 97% of the forest reserve, this could mean total destruction of the forest and its biodiversity, which would adversely impact the indigenous people who rely on the forest.
Selangor Forestry Department placed a notice in a major daily on Feb 5 inviting stakeholders in Kuala Langat to voice their objections to the proposal within 30 days.
The public hearing is in accordance with the Public Inquiry (Selangor) Rules 2014 and the National Forestry Act (Adoption) Enactment 1985, which makes the exercise (placement of notice) compulsory before a forest reserve can be degazetted.
The notice that the forest could be degazetted for a mixed development project shocked environmentalists and 2,000 Temuan Orang Asli community who lived off the forest.
Panikkar also said that the objection period was too short.
“We request that the objection period, which ends on March 5, be extended so we have ample time to prepare the objection argument, ” she added.
More than 13,000 concerned individuals voiced their objections via e-mail to the forestry department.
The department also received eight memorandums from seven associations and NGOs as well as two letters of objection from government-linked companies (GLCs).
Environmentalists cautioned that the forest reserve, a type of peat swamp forest, was an area of importance for biodiversity conservation for critically endangered flora and fauna, such as the meranti bakau, Malayan sun bear, Selangor pygmy flying squirrel and the rare Langat red fighting fish.
Complaints on the matter can be addressed to the department director at Tingkat 3, Bangunan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, 40660 Shah Alam, Selangor or email: email@example.com
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