KUALA LUMPUR: Environmental NGOs today called for a halt to the large-scale cultivation of a single crop for rubber and durian plantations in forest reserves in the peninsula.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia said federal and state authorities usually justified approval for such projects by saying the areas allotted were poor forests with no commercial value for the wood-based industry.
“But based on studies by SAM, the areas are not poor forests as claimed by the authorities,” the group’s research and field officer, Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman, said at a press conference here.
He also claimed that many of these projects are carried out without environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports or proper standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“Some states such as Kelantan don’t even have SOPs on monoculture farming,” he added.
He said the lives of Orang Asli communities in these forests were continually being disturbed, while these projects had also destroyed the habitats of wildlife such as the Malayan tiger in the Jerangau forest reserve in Terengganu.
He also claimed that the farming projects were an excuse to harvest forest produce through land clearing and deforestation instead of selective and sustainable logging methods.
Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (Kuasa) meanwhile said efforts had been made to put a stop to deforestation at forest reserves.
Kuasa president Hafiz Nasarudin said the group also submitted a memorandum to the Kelantan government in 2016 but had yet to receive a response.
Likewise, he said no arrests had been made despite the establishment of a task force by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the approval given for farming projects.
Yusaimi Md Yusof of Persatuan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera Malaysia meanwhile called for more active involvement from religious groups, saying they have a responsibility to advise the authorities on the matter.
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