Selangor MB defends degazetting of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve

Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari says the public can still submit their views or objections to the Selangor Forestry Department. With him at the press conference is exco member Hee Loy Sian. (Bernama pic)

SHAH ALAM: The proposed degazetting of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve is due to the fact that 40% of the area no longer has virgin forest as well as to prevent recurrence of open burning in forest areas, said Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari.

He said the proposal to degazette the forest reserve was still in the early stage of implementation. Hence, the public and relevant parties can still submit their views or objections to the Selangor Forestry Department before March 5.

“We are only at the second stage of the degazetting proposal. We will go through the due process. In the event of a bad technical report, we will re-evaluate the proposal.

“Thus far, we have received over 2,000 objections against the proposal, some of which are just sentiments. I am glad that there is a greater awareness among the public on this issue,” he said at a press conference here today.

He said the proposed degazetting would not reduce the number of forest reserves in Selangor as it would be “relocated” to new areas with an additional 121ha, compared to the current Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve.

He said to date, Selangor has 70 gazetted forest reserves.

“In line with the proposed degazetting, we are providing four less explored forest areas to replace the 931.ha of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve. The new locations also feature similar peat swamp forests and ecosystems.

“If the proposed degazetting is approved, we will select four locations as new forest reserves,” he said.

The new locations are forest areas in Sungai Panjang in Sabak Bernam; Sabak Bernam Forest Reserve; Taman Alam Forest Reserve in Kuala Selangor and Ampang Pecah Forest Reserve in Ampang.

Asked about claims by certain quarters that the proposed degazetting of the forest reserve would affect Orang Asli settlements, Amirudin refuted the claim and said the state government had earlier relocated the settlements from the forest reserve.

“We have cleared 404ha of land involving four Orang Asli settlements and 1,000 residents. So, it is not true that the state government wants to interfere in the life of the Orang Asli communities.

“There may be another issue about the old burial ground of the Orang Asli from the Temuan tribe there. We will re-evaluate this after the protest process is over. If we can ‘relocate’ it from the forest reserve, we will do so,” he said.

He said the various protests and accusations voiced by certain quarters against the proposed degazetting move were half-baked, distorted and untrue as the state government would never reduce the number of forest reserves in Selangor.

Recently, the Selangor Forestry Department issued a notice on the proposal to degazette the forest reserve through an advertisement in a local newspaper. It has since triggered numerous mixed reactions from NGOs and members of the public.