States urged to find replacements for degazetted forests

A conservationist says the public should be consulted before forested areas are degazetted and destroyed.

PETALING JAYA: Conservationist Salleh Mohd Nor has called on all state governments to make it a policy to replace every forest reserve they degazette with an equivalent area.

Speaking at a forum here, the former president of the Malaysian Nature Society noted that only Selangor had such a policy and said the other states should emulate it.

He urged the states to make sure that the new reserves would be similar in size and quality to the degazetted areas.

“If you degazette a virgin forest but you replace it with a shrubby area, that’s not right,” he said.

Neither would it be right, he added, to pick a replacement area where there would be no guarantee that the forest would last. Such an area would be one surrounded by oil palms, he said.

Former Malaysian Nature Society president Salleh Mohd Nor.

However, he acknowledged that some states might find it hard to find appropriate forests to declare as new reserves. “Forested areas are dwindling,” he said.

Salleh also urged the state administrations to consult the public before degazetting and destroying forested areas. In this, too, Selangor’s practice had been exemplary, he said.

In 2011, the Selangor government amended the state’s forestry law to ensure that forest reserves in the state cannot be degazetted without public consultation.

Salleh said the consultation would give the public the opportunity to object to the destruction of reserves and to suggest alternative actions.

He urged the public, particularly its younger members, to speak up against actions that would destroy forests.