‘Don’t ruin Kledang Saiong’

IPOH: Planting just a few species of trees in a forest plantation project will be detrimental to the biodiversity at the Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve in Kuala Kangsar, says an environmental activist.

Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (Kuasa) president Hafizuddin Nasarudin said it was senseless for the forest plantation project to be carried out, adding that it would only drive away wildlife and cause possible conflict between wild animals and humans.“It will not be conducive as a habitat for various kinds of wildlife,” he said at a press conference by the Save Kledang Saiong Forest Network.

He had earlier handed over a memorandum by the group to the Perak Mentri Besar’s special officer, Rahim Nawawi, at the State Secretariat building here.

Hafizuddin said the aim was to have a forest that was “colourful and filled with biodiversity”, adding that the effects of mass clearing of forest land also included flash floods and soil erosion.

On Feb 17, eight NGOs submitted a memorandum to the Perak Sultan’s office, requesting the Ruler intervene in the proposed 4,280ha forest plantation or monoculture farming project at the forest reserve.

The NGOs requested Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah to instruct the state authorities to comply with the decision made at the 79th National Land Council meeting on Dec 2, 2021 to impose a 15-year moratorium on approvals for new forest plantations in permanent forest reserves in the peninsula.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad said in February that the project did not violate any regulation, adding that the total area approved under the Forest Plantation Development Zone was 100,000ha, but the state government had reduced the size to about 32,000ha.

Hafizuddin said he had visited the Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve and believes that it is still a forest rich with trees and biodiversity.

“The area is still considered rich, even though the Forestry Department may deem otherwise. There had been logging, but there are still a lot of trees and habitat for many animals.

“We are not against development but there should be selective logging and replacement of the logged trees with the same species,” he added, urging the state to cancel the project at the forest reserve.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman said eucalyptus and rubber trees would be planted in the plantation project.

“The plan is to harvest latex from the rubber trees for 20 years and then chop them down as logs.

“As for the eucalyptus trees, which is not a native species, these would be harvested for their wood,” he said when contacted.

Meor Razak said he felt that the EIA report, which was published in December last year, did not give the full picture for the state to make a decision on the plantation project.

He suggested that the state also get a report on the socio-economic impact on people living near the forest reserves, including the Orang Asli.

“The locals there were not approached to get their views. If the forest has been cleared, the livelihood of the Orang Asli will be impacted,” he said, adding that land clearing would also pollute nearby rivers and tributaries.

Meor said the state government needed to give more attention to forest management.

“The scale of the project is huge, which is about the size of a township and could have an impact on the environment. There should also be a public hearing on the project,” he added.

When contacted, Saarani assured that the state government would adhere to the recommendations of the Environment Department (DOE).

“If the DOE deems that the project is in compliance with the EIA, we will continue with it. Otherwise, we will cancel it,” he said, adding that the DOE’s expertise was recognised by the state government.

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Kledang , Saiong , Environment , Plantation , Project , Ipoh , Perak , SAM , Kuasa


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