PETALING JAYA, Feb 17 – Several non governmental organisations and concerned citizens today brought to the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, their environmental concerns on the plans to develop a 4,280-hectare forest plantation (monoculture plantation) in the Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve in the Kuala Kangsar area of Perak.
In a memorandum handed over at the Iskandariah Palace in Kuala Kangsar, the group explained to His Highness why such a large scale in the forest reserve will destroy the natural forest and leave a negative impact on the biodiversity of the place, the people living around the area as well as the habitat it is to the animals still living in the forest.
The operation of removing the original forest to replace with plantation is really a misuse of the word forest plantation, as a plantation is really a farming venture through the planting of a monoculture in a big scale, the NGOs said.
A forest meanwhile is a natural entity with its woods and plants growing naturally with a high biodiversity that have their own roles in the ecological system, according to the memo, which was signed by chairman of Pertubuhan Komuniti Sejahtera Aman Perak, Tun Ahmad Latfi Mohd Ibrahim, Meor Razak from Sahabat Alam Malaysia, Mohd Rafi Zainal Abidin from Pertubuhan Sahabat Ekologi Perak, chairman of Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam Hafizudin Nasarudin, Lembah Kinta Oberver Ching Boon Tat, chairman of Jawatankuasa Bertindak Kampung Rambai Tujuh Dailami Zahari, President of Green Party Zabri Mokhtar and chairman of Parti Sosialis Malaysia Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj.
The memorandum also listed out observations and studies made by several environment based NGOS on how many of the various “forest plantations” or monoculture plantations did not really qualify or meet the criteria that have been set up for forest plantation as set out in circular sent out in 2010 by the Director General of the Forestry of Peninsular Malaysia and the guidelines set out by the Department of Forestry.
The group also listed out several potential issues that will come with the development of the 4,280-hectare area in the forest reserve of Kledang Saiong.
According to the memo, the people living close to the area had not been consulted on the proposed project. While a social impact study should have been conducted under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report as a component, people living around the area say they have not been approached by the EIA consultants, project undertakers or any related agencies.
Among the concerns raised in the memo include the risk of pollution on the water sources and rivers there. The forest clearing works will only bring pollution to these water sources.
The issue of rising conflicts between humans and animals being denied of their natural habitat, was also raised in the memo besides the fact that the proposed area is also house to many animal species that are endangered and rare.
Air pollution including the release of pollutant particles brought on by the removal of tree cover and the consequences of carbon emission that will be released from this is also another cause for concern, the memo said. This also raises health concerns for the people around the area.
Among other factors the people living around the area are also traditionally dependent on the natural products of the forest and the plantation project will take away their source of complementary income, the heads of the NGOs who handed over the memorandum said.
They have appealed to Sultan Nazrin to interfere in the matter and issue a decree to the local state authorities to follow the regulations set under the 79th National Land Council Meeting on December 2021. The meeting in principle agreed to a 15-year moratorium on the issuance of any new license for forest plantations in the forest reserves of Peninsular Malaysia.
The group also appealed to His Highness to consider calling for a cancellation of the plantation forest.