GUA MUSANG: The Kelantan Forestry Department has detected the existence of a new syndicate illegally exploring forest reserves in the state before selling farming plots to unsuspecting members of the public without legal documents.
Its director Abdul Khalim Abu Samah said the modus operandi of the syndicate was to sell farmed plots at a price depending on the size of the area and the crops planted in the breached forest reserve area.
"The syndicate explores the forest reserves and cultivates plots of one to six hectares before selling them to unwary outsiders.
"Ultimately, the buyers of these plots will become victims of eviction when the state carries out operations to destroy illegally encroached forest reserves," he told reporters after an Integrated Operation to combat the illegal exploration of the Relai Forest Reserve here Monday (Jan 24).
Commenting further, Abdul Khalim said his department would work with various agencies to investigate the methods used by the syndicate in dealing with the sale and purchase of the encroached areas.
"Outsiders (buyers) are not aware that the plot of land they are buying is not the legal property of the illegal settlers.
"In the Relai Forest Reserve alone, we found that illegal settlers have explored an area of about 15ha to 20ha by planting oil palm," he added.
He said the department would use drones to monitor Kelantan’s forest reserve boundary of more than 8,000km to detect illegal encroachment.
"We constantly conduct operations to combat illegal exploration activities in the state in efforts to preserve the forest reserve," he said. - Bernama