KUANTAN: Serious efforts have been undertaken to preserve Tasik Chini, says the Pahang Forestry Department.
Its director Datuk Dr Mohd Hizamri Mohd Yasin said there had been no new approvals for mining activities in Tasik Chini since 2019 and in fact, the state government had begun to intensify efforts to rehabilitate the mining areas by allocating RM250, 000 through a rehabilitation fund.
"This effort is implemented mainly in the buffer zone area of about 13.12ha, with the planting of various species of bamboo, ground cover crops, as well as suitable high-value commercial species such as Merawan Siput Jantan and Meranti Temak Nipis trees.
"The Pahang government also took stern action by stopping the operation of any lessee or mine operator in the Tasik Chini area immediately, in the event of non-compliance with the approval conditions of mining activities," he said in a statement on Sunday (June 13).
Mohd Hizamri added that the state government had also taken immediate enforcement and remedial action against any encroachment activities in the mine area.
"In July 2020, for example, the state government instructed the Pahang Forestry Department to expedite rehabilitation activities in the 0.45ha mine encroachment area in Tasik Chini which was then implemented in collaboration with the private sector through their corporate social responsibility practices.
"Ongoing monitoring of mine area rehabilitation activities is constantly intensified and at the same time, the awareness and responsibility of lessees and mine operators is also enhanced.
"The state Forestry Department together with the Pahang Land and Mines director's office always works with the mine operator in providing technical advice on the importance and need for rehabilitation of each mine lease area," he said.
Mohd Hizamri said the department, in collaboration with the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry, had also planned a Social Forestry Pilot Project with the Orang Asli community in Tasik Chini.
He said a series of consultations involving the Orang Asli communities of Kampung Gumum and Kampung Melai, Pekan had been implemented since 2018.
He said in an effort to create awareness among the local community, the state government through the department had also launched a "1 Pokok, 1 Rakyat Negeri Pahang" campaign which targets the planting of five million trees in 2021.
"All trees planted in Chini, Pekan will be recorded through this campaign. The campaign is also to support and succeed the Greening Malaysia Programme which targets the planting of up to 100 million trees by 2025," said Mohd HIzamri.
He said furthermore, as a long-term recovery plan for Tasik Chini, the state executive council had agreed to approve a state park reserve area of 4, 497.25ha to be turned into the Chini Forest Reserve in accordance with Section 7 of the National Forestry Act 1984.
"To realize the reforestation effort, about RM10mil will be allocated from various sources to rehabilitate an area of about 202.34ha.
"Upon completion of the Chini Forest Reserve gazetting process, the state Forestry Department will propose to the Pahang government that the entire Chini Forest Reserve be gazetted under the Protected Forest category under Section 10 of the National Forestry Act 1984," said Mohd Hizamri.
News broke recently that mining operations had been approved about 3km southeast of Tasik Chini, which drew plentiful reactions from various quarters and on social media.
According to the executive summary of the project's environmental impact assessment, the 40.51ha project site was located outside the Tasik Chini gazetted area.
The Pahang Land and Mines director's office also said on Saturday (June 12) that claims that the mining area around Tasik Chini was within a forest reserve were untrue, while the state Department of Environment refuted allegations that the water of the lake was severely polluted.