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Loophole for developers: Cutting forest reserve projects into small pieces

The floods and timber logs that caused major damage in Pahang last December have raised concerns regarding deforestation in the state due to logging and forest clearing for plantations.

Environmental groups have highlighted the adverse impact of the plantations as they involved large swathes of forest land while the “clear-cutting” strategy results in severe ecological harm.

Unlike selective logging where only wood that is valued is chosen, clear-cutting sees the felling of all trees.

Macaranga, an environmental media site, estimated that between 2007 and 2019, Pahang cleared 75,748 hectares of forest for plantation, second only to Kelantan.

Surprisingly, the Department of Environment's (DOE) records showed there were no large-scale (more than 500 hectares) forest plantation projects in Pahang throughout last year.

However, an environmentalist said some developers exploited a loophole by dividing a major project into several pieces in order to avoid publicising their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports.

To verify this, Malaysiakini looked into medium-sized forest plantation projects which cover 100 to 500 hectares.

It was discovered that among the DOE-approved projects for last year, forest plantations topped the list with 18 and all of them were medium-sized...

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