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M'sian Nature Society raises concern on declining forest reserve in Selangor

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Selangor has to make sure there is enough forest reserve, in line with the Federal government's target forest cover of 55.3 percent, says Malaysian Nature Society.

Its president Ahmad Ismail claimed the forest reserve in Selangor is decreasing and fragmented.

"This is not good for wildlife. Selangor should stop degazetting its forest reserve.

"The forest should be protected and conserved for future benefit," he told Malaysiakini.

Ahmad was referring to the proposal by the Selangor Forestry Department to degazette 930 hectares within the Kuala Langat (North) Forest Reserve area.

"The peat swamp forest in Kuala Langat is unique and plays an important role in ecology, especially for carbon storage, water balance, and other environmental services.

"Nonetheless, its location will be surrounded by developments and by that time, the forest will have a significant contribution to the community.

"The future community will use the forest for a myriad of activities such as education, research, recreation and tourism," he said.

Ahmad echoed the same objection by that of Water, Land, and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar, who had said the state government must take into account the sentiments of the Orang Asli living there.

"When we preserve the forest, the Orang Asli could benefit from it by working as a guide.

"Depending on traditional forest products alone is not sustainable," said the retired UKM professor in wildlife ecology and ecotoxicology.

He stressed that companies and developers should contribute to the proposed future activities in regard to the forest reserve instead of destroying it.

News of the proposed degazetting broke when the Selangor Forestry Department placed a notice in major dailies on Feb 5 inviting stakeholders in the district to voice their objections to the proposal within a 30-day time frame.

This is in accordance with the Public Inquiry (Selangor) Rules 2014, as well as the National Forestry Act (Adoption) Enactment 1985, which makes the exercise (placement of notice) compulsory before a forest reserve can be degazetted.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department P Waythamoorthy had confirmed that the affected territory involved the roaming areas of four Orang Asli villages - Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Kecil, Bukit Cheeding, Busut Baru and Pulau Kempas - with a population of 1,049 villagers.

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