PETALING JAYA: Peninsular Malaysia will see deforestation amounting to a minimum of 72,584.73ha in the near future, says an environmental group.
This is roughly three times the size of Kuala Lumpur or nearly the size of Singapore.
Rimba Disclosure Project (RDP), in its findings for 2021, claimed that a total of 86 environmental impact assessments (EIAs) involving forested land had been approved, 28 listings of forests for sale identified, and one project involving deforestation was ongoing.
“Previously we called for an investigation by relevant state authorities into alleged listings of forests for sale, but no action has been taken to our knowledge,” it said in a statement today.
Of the EIAs, 71% are for forest plantations, and 24,973.76ha have been approved for deforestation inside permanent forest reserves.
“Unlike Malaysia’s natural forests which can host over 200 species of trees per hectare, forest plantations hold just one species, which affects their ability to support biodiversity, sequester carbon, mitigate floods and provide ecosystem services to local communities and the wider economy as a whole,” it said.
RDP called on financial institutions to step up and recognise the connections between biodiversity and climate crisis, and “urgently end all financial flows towards deforestation”.
It said Bank Negara Malaysia had voiced a similar concern on the impact of deforestation on the economy.
In a scenario where a partial ecosystem collapsed, Malaysia could experience a 6% gross domestic product annual loss by 2030, it said.
FMT has reached out to the forestry department for comment.