PUTRAJAYA: The environment ministry has denied that permanent forest reserves in Kelantan had been cleared as was reported in the press this week.
Natural Resource and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said in a statement that “the Kelantan Forestry Department is actively monitoring developments on this issue”.
A press report has claimed that 7,248 hectares out of more than 600,000 hectares of permanent forest reserves had been illegally exploited throughout Kelantan since the 1980s.
The area was exploited by hardcore settlers who had cultivated agricultural crops and new settlers who tried to continue the illegal exploitation of the forest.
Wan Junaidi said that preserving the forest was the responsibility of everyone and not that of the government alone.
He said the forest had various functions because it represented a source of water supply and had biological diversity which formed the thrust to livelihood.
“It is time for us to diversify the functions of the forest other than for logging alone.
“We can turn the forest into an eco-tourism destination which can help the community to appreciate our rich forest,” he added.