ALARM bells are ringing over several proposed infrastructure projects that could cut across green spaces and forested areas in Shah Alam, Selangor.
There are concerns that these projects, including for a highway and two rail lines, would damage existing forest reserves and green spaces, and hinder wildlife movement.
Should they go ahead, the projects would affect the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve, Shah Alam National Botanical Garden as well as Shah Alam Community Forest (SACF).
Coalition for the Protection of Selangor Forests (CPSF), a partnership of organisations set up to protect the forests and animals, pointed out that these projects had been proposed by Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) in its local draft plan.
The Shah Alam Local Draft Plan 2035 was recently displayed to gather public feedback.
The projects include the proposed alignment for the Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE) 2A highway, LRT 2 Circle Line, MRT extension as well as a road project that would connect Setia Alam to Section U10, Shah Alam.
The proposed DUKE 2A highway would cut through the northern part of Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve as well as the catchment of the Tasik Subang Dam water reservoir.
The LRT 2 Circle Line 2 South (Elmina, Shah Alam - Putrajaya) alignment is planned to pass through Shah Alam National Botanical Garden while the MRT Extension West (Sungai Buloh-Elmina West-Klang) line would cut across south of SACF and the proposed road.
CPSF comprises seven environmental and social non-governmental organisations that advocate the protection and conservation of forests in Selangor by working abreast with alliances, allies and networks to highlight the global importance of forest ecosystems and biodiversity for climate control and natural sustainability.
Its members are Treat Every Environment Special (Trees), Centre for Orang Asli Concerns Malaysia, Global Environment Centre, Grass Malaysia, Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam, Malaysian Nature Society and Sahabat Alam Malaysia.
Trees strongly opposed the proposed alignment of the projects, citing it to be detrimental to the environmental ecosystem of the forests.
Its technical adviser Dr Rosli Omar spoke about MBSA’s proposal in the draft plan to have a road connecting Setia Alam to Section 10 (Bandar NusaRhu). “This road will cut across Shah Alam Community Forest and separate the south forest – comprising Shah Alam National Botanical Garden – from the north portion, causing fragmentation.
“This area is the only wildlife corridor facilitating wildlife movement between north and south.
“The road would certainly put a stop and cause hindrance to wildlife movement and increase roadkill, ” he said.
Rosli added that over time, this would lead to lack of genetic diversity along with inbreeding of
various animal populations; causing a decline in population and eventual extinction. “The ecological viability of the forest will be jeopardised, ” he said, adding that all the proposed projects would damage the forest reserve and the botanical park.
“In addition, the forest is currently surrounded by many existing roads. For example, Persiaran Mokhtar Dahari, located to the north of the proposed road, has already split the forest, ” he said.
Rosli cautioned that all remaining forests in the country must not be fragmented any further.
“In fact, there must be wildlife corridors to connect various forests so that animals can move freely between them, ” he said.
Dr Teckwyn Lim, a member of the SACF Society championing the protection of the forests in Shah Alam, said at least 10 Malaysian tapirs were killed on Persiaran Mokhtar Dahari since it first opened in 2003.
“A tapir was videotaped in Perdana Heights just north of Bandar NusaRhu in April this year and another in August near the botanical park.“It is certain that the Malayan tapir, which is categorised as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, is inhabiting and depending on this area for survival. This species and its habitat must be conserved, ” he said in a joint statement by the coalition.
SACF Society founder secretary Alicia Teo said objection to the proposed road project had been sent to MBSA.
She urged the relevant authorities to reexamine the status of the affected forest areas before attempting to proceed with any development in the future. “The proposed rail and road projects will cut across environmentally sensitive forest corridors and this will severely fragment the existing Bukit Cherakah forest patch.
“It will be detrimental to the overall function of the forest in terms of wildlife movement and ecological aspects like flood mitigation, ” she said.
She added that the proposed road to link Bandar NusaRhu and Setia Alam would destroy a large tract of the SACF.
The hiking trails are located in the area where the proposed road would be built. Its natural landscape is a popular draw for nature lovers and hikers.
“This forest is currently not protected and it is one of the last remaining rainforests in a highly developed Selangor where urban folk destress, exercise and learn about nature, ” she said.Teo added that numerous objections had been made to MBSA and they were waiting for a public hearing concerning the matter.
Objections were made during the Shah Alam Local Draft Plan 2035 publicity period between July and September this year.
Based on the figures in August, 180 objections were received for the proposed road development that will cut through SACF.
The coalition is urging MBSA to consult with the relevant agencies such as the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan), Forestry Department and Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) as well as wildlife experts to
evaluate the impact of the proposed projects.
MBSA corporate communications head Shahrin Ahmad said several objections were received concerning the proposed projects cutting through green lungs.
“We are still in the midst of tabulating the objections received during the local draft plan’s publicity period, ” he said.
Land Public Transport Agency (Apad) spokesperson could not comment on the proposed LRT project as the agency had yet to receive an official application for the proposed alignment.
“At the moment, the proposed alignment is an idea from MBSA for its future transportation planning and we have not received any study or proposal papers about the project, ” he said.
A spokesperson from Ekovest Bhd, project developer for DUKE, declined to comment on the matter when contacted.
In a statement, Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) said it had taken note of MBSA’s proposal for the MRT Extension West in the Shah Alam Draft Local Plan 2035.
However, it has not been engaged to look into the matter.