Objection To The Proposed Degazettement of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve
KUALA LANGAT, 23 FEBRUARY 2020: A coalition of seven environmental and social NGOs known as Coalition for the Protection of Selangor’s Forests is collaborating to object to the proposal for de-gazettement of 930.93 hectares of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve for a mixed development project. The partnership consists of Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Global Environment Centre (GEC), Grass Malaysia, Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (KUASA), Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), and Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES).
The Coalition is objecting to the proposed de-gazettement of the forest reserve due to the fact that the area is an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA/KSAS) - Rank 1 under the Third National Physical Plan (RFN-3) and Disaster Risk KSAS under Development Goal Policy 16 (MP16) in the Selangor State Structure Plan 2035 (RSN). It is also designated as a conservation area under the recently gazetted Local Plan for Kuala Langat District. Under these plans NO development is allowed in Environmentally Sensitive Areas Rank 1 – so as to avoid serious environmental, economic and social impacts.
According to Faizal Parish, Director of GEC, “Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) is very critical to the life and culture of the local Temuan Orang Asli communities that have lived in the area for hundreds of years. Their right to use the forest was incorporated into the Gazettement Notice for the forest reserve in 1927. The forest is of significant socio-economic and cultural significance to the community”. “KLNFR is also key for carbon storage and development could release an estimated 5.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions contributing to climate change.”
In response to the recent statement made by Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari that 40 per cent of the forest has already been “degraded” due to fires and regular fires are the main justification for the degazettement, Leela Panikkar from TrEES said “The latest survey indicates that most of the previously burnt areas are now covered in tall regenerating forest. Following the establishment of a partnership to protect the forest between the State Forestry Department, NGOs, and the local Orang Asli community in 2015, there has been only one fire in the forest reserve in the past five years and no new forest degradation has been recorded.”
She added, “We are happy that the State Government has provided an opportunity to invite the public to voice their rights and objection. However, we cannot understand the reasoning behind the desire of the State Government to de-gazette the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve. This forest is very important to the Orang Asli community and for conservation. There are many rare, endangered and endemic plant and animal species.”
The Friends of Kuala Langat North Peat Swamp Forest comprising of Orang Asli living near the forest has been working with the Selangor State Forestry Department and other organisations to carry out rehabilitation and conservation activities of the area since 2015. They have planted more than 10,000 trees, blocked, drained and supported natural regeneration. As a result the forest is recovering well in more than 300ha of the forest reserve, earlier affected by fire.
The proposed de-gazettement of KLNFR is also not in line with the National Action Plan for Peatlands (2011-2020), the National Policy on Biological Diversity (2016-2025), the Land Conservation Act 1960 (Act 385) related to conservation and protection of environmental resources as well as Malaysia’s obligations under international agreements and conventions.
On February 5, 2020, the Selangor State Government through the Selangor State Forestry Department had placed a notice in major dailies inviting stakeholders in the Kuala Langat district to voice their objections to the proposed degazettement within 30 days.
Since February 5, members of the Coalition and other organisations have launched petitions and helped facilitate responses. To date more than 25,000 people have confirmed their objection to the project. The Coalition’s petition “Help Save Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve: Home of Orang Asli and Biodiversity”, is available at http://chng.it/vZGQWbcTV5.
About the Coalition for the Protection of Selangor’s Forests
The coalition of seven environmental organisations was formed due to our concern that Selangor is going to lose a very important peat swamp forest reserve that is rich in biodiversity and home to indigenous communities. The coalition advocates for the protection and conservation of forests in Selangor by working abreast with alliances, allies and networks to highlight the global importance of forest ecosystems and biodiversity for climate control and natural sustainability. The coalition also promotes respect for the rights and identity of indigenous communities that have been coexisting with the forests in Malaysia.
For more info about the Coalition, visit:
Members of the Coalition are:
- Center for Orang Asli Concerns Malaysia (COAC)
- Global Environment Centre (GEC)
- GRASS Malaysia
- Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (KUASA)
- Malaysian Nature Society (MNS)
- Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)
- Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES)