State mulls legalising small-time farmers in forest reserve

THE state is currently deciding whether or not to legalise agricultural activities that are being carried out in the Kuala Langat South Forest Reserve.

Based on the National Forestry Act (Adoption) Enactment 1985, any form of activity is not allowed to be carried out in gazetted forest reserves.

“We have identified a few agricultural activities taking place there and the total land used for agricultural purposes is 3,463ha.

“These 454 individuals have been there for over 30 years now and no action was taken against them when it happened years ago,” said Selangor tourism, environment, green technology and Orang Asli affairs committee chairman Hee Loy Sian.

He disclosed that six big companies were also among those involved in the agricultural activities in the forest reserve.

“These companies were given temporary occupation licences (TOL) by the former government to operate there.”

The TOL was revoked by the current state government but the companies did not cease their farming operations, he said.

He said this in reply to a question from Mohd Fakhrulrazi Mohd Mokhtar (PH-Meru), who wanted to know if activities were allowed in the forest reserve and what form of action had been taken to date.

Hee explained that the state government was in a dilemma because there were people in favour of legalising the small-time farmers while others were pushing for the forest to be protected from all forms of commercial activity.

“The Selangor Forestry Department is now in the midst of preparing the papers and reports for the legalising exercise and will present it to the state.

“We have received numerous requests and appeals from farmers there to allow them to continue,” he said.

He stressed that if the state government was to legalise agricultural activities in the forest, it would only be for the small-time farmers and not the companies.

The state also planned to rehabilitate the forest reserve by planting more trees in areas which have been cleared and used for agricultural activities.

There are 250,207.39ha of gazetted forest reserves in Selangor.

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