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Protect Selangor State Park

February 26, 2014

FMT LETTER: From WWF-Malaysia, via e-mail

WWF-Malaysia is part a coalition for the Protection of the Selangor State Park. We are greatly concerned with the proposal to degazette part of the Selangor State Park (SSP), also known as Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor, to make way for the proposed Kuala Lumpur Outer Ring Road (KLORR).

The proposed degazettement involves 106.55 hectares of land from four forest reserves in Selangor, namely the Ampang, Bukit Seputeh, Ulu Gombak and Ulu Langat Forest Reserves. Two of the forest reserves, Ampang and Ulu Gombak, form part of the Selangor State Park and are important water catchments for the Klang Valley.

The Ampang and Ulu Gombak forest reserves serve as water catchment forests for major areas in the Klang Valley. The Ampang Intake plant supplies 19 million litres of potable water per day to 9,225 accounts in the Ampang area. The Ulu Gombak forest reserve is a catchment for the Klang Gates Dam.

This dam reportedly supplies water to 80,000 households and business premises in the Klang Valley. It is ironic that the proposal to degazette crucial water catchment forests comes at a time when water shortages are being reported in different parts of the Klang Valley and water levels in the Klang Valley dams are reported as dangerously low.

The SSP, the largest stretch of contiguous forest tract remaining in Selangor and the third largest park in Peninsular Malaysia, is an Environmentally Sensitive Area Rank 1. It forms part of Peninsular Malaysia’s Central Forest Spine and functions as the most important watershed for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

The gazettement as a State Park was to provide a higher level of protection status to the forests that are not only rich in biodiversity but provide crucial ecosystems services such as water to a vast population of residents and businesses in the greater area.

While Selangor is the only state to have provisions for a public inquiry and objection for proposals to degazette forest reserves, which is a commendable effort, we wonder if it would be just another avenue where concerns will be ‘considered’ but will not change the government’s decision.

Since 2009, many members of the public and NGOs have voiced concerns about the proposed KLORR project, calling on the government to change the alignment of the road and not allow the road to traverse through the park.

These included written submissions during the Ampang, Selayang and Kajang Local Plans public objection period and the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA). Groups of NGOs have also written to the Federal and state governments to appeal that the project does not traverse the park. All to no avail.

Two of the forest reserves are water catchments for areas outside of Gombak and Ulu Langat districts. Moreover, the SSP is a beautiful park and should be regarded as the pride of not only the citizens of Selangor, but the entire nation.

Thus, every citizen who wants the forests protected should be able to voice their concern as “interested parties”. We don’t think the right to object the degazettement be limited to only those living in the Gombak and Ulu Langat districts.

Those who support the construction of the highway may argue that only a ‘small’ percentage of the forest and state park is being cleared for the project and according to the DEIA, the adverse impacts can be mitigated. While in theory the impacts can be mitigated, in practice it may not be easy to control sedimentation into the rivers that run into the treatment plants downstream of the project site.

And more often than not, road development brings about more development along the roads which could eventually lead to more forested areas in the SSP to be destroyed in the future, leading to irreversible impacts.

The need for the KLORR was based on a report prepared 15 years ago. Since then, the Federal Government has been intensifying efforts to improve and promote the use of public transportation. In August 2013, the Selangor Menteri Besar announced that Selangor planned to increase public transportation ridership of its population from the current 5% to 40% in the future.

This month, he announced that Selangor will implement the Transit on Demand plan to minimise movement of vehicles into the city, thus reducing traffic and air pollution. We, therefore, call on the Federal and Selangor Government to review the need for the KLORR in the light that the government is working to improve the public transportation system.

Is it therefore more important to build a highway and risk having less water in the future? Should we not ensure water catchments and our state parks that are protected for a reason remain free from destruction and preserved for future? We can live with traffic jams until the public transportation system improves, but we cannot live without water.

We strongly urge the government to rescind its plans to allow a highway to traverse through the Selangor State Park.

The others in the coalition for the Protection of the Selangor State Park are  Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES), Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and Save Our Sungai Selangor (S.O.S. Selangor).


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