Degazetting proposal due to lack of virgin forest element, says Selangor MB

SHAH ALAM (Bernama): The proposed degazetting of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve is due to the fact that 40% of the area no longer has virgin forest element, as well as to prevent recurrence of open burning, says Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari.

He said the proposal to degazette the forest reserve was still in the early stage of implementation, hence, the public and relevant parties could still submit their views or objections to the Selangor Forestry Department before March 5.

"We are only at the second stage of the degazetting proposal. We will go through all due process. In the event of a bad technical report, we will re-evaluate the proposal.

"Thus far, we have received over 2,000 objections against the proposal, some of which are just sentiments, but I am glad that there is an awareness among the public (on this issue), ” he said at a press conference here on Thursday (Feb 20).

He said the proposed degazetting would not reduce the number of forest reserves in Selangor, as it would be ‘relocated’ to new areas with an additional 121 hectares compared to the current Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve.

He said to date, Selangor has a total of 70 gazetted forest reserves.

"In line with the proposed degazetting, we are providing four less explored forest areas to replace the 931.17 hectare of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve. The new locations also feature similar peat swamp forests and ecosystems.

"If the proposed degazetting is approved, we will select four locations as new forest reserves, ” he said.

The new locations are forest areas in Sungai Panjang in Sabak Bernam; Sabak Bernam Forest Reserve; Taman Alam Forest Reserve in Kuala Selangor and Ampang Pecah Forest Reserve in Ampang.

Asked about claims by certain quarters that the proposed degazetting of the forest reserve would affect the Orang Asli settlements, Amirudin refuted the claim and said the state government had earlier relocated the settlements from the forest reserve.

"We have cleared 404 hectares of land involving four Orang Asli settlements and 1,000 residents. So, it is not true that the state government wants to interfere with the life of the Orang Asli communities.

"There may be another issue will be raised such as the old burial ground of the Orang Asli from Temuan tribe there. We will re-evaluate this after the protest process is over and if we can ‘relocate' it (from the forest reserve), we will do so, ” he said.

He also described that various protests and accusations voiced by certain quarters against the proposed degazetting move as half-baked, distorted and untrue, as the state government would never reduce the number of forest reserves in Selangor.

Recently, the Selangor Forestry Department issued a notice on the proposal to degazette the forest reserve through an advertisement in a local newspaper and it has since triggered numerous mixed reactions from non-governmental organisations and members of the public. - Bernama

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