The de-gazettement of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) has violated multiple existing policies and fails to recognise the land as an Environmental Sensitive Area (ESA) Rank 1, according to the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).
“The Selangor state government has not provided adequate justifications showing the proposed replacement land (used for mixed-development purposes) has the same ecological value and share the same ecological importance as compared to KLNFR.
“It is also not in line with the National Action Plan for Peatlands (2011-2020) and the Third National Physical Plan (NPP-3) that peatland has been recognised as Environmental Sensitive Area (ESA) Rank 1 that any developments are prohibited.
“Peatlands have been widely recognised to play important roles as carbon sinks and prevent risks to disasters,” MNS said in a statement today.
According to the Department of Environment (DOE), ESAs are meant to be integrated in the planning and management of land use and natural resources to ensure sustainable development.
No development, agriculture or logging is permitted at ESA Rank 1 areas except for low-impact nature tourism, research and education.
Project proponents are also advised to not select sites located in or adjacent to ESAs, as defined in the 2005 National Physical Plan.
The MNS claimed that the de-gazettement also violates the National Policy on Biological Diversity which ensures the protection and conservation of rare, endangered and threatened species in ESA areas.
“KLNFR is also critical to the culture and tradition of the Temuan Orang Asli that has been residing in the area for hundreds of years.
“With that, the de-gazettement will cause a negative impact on wildlife, environment and people.
“Not forgetting Malaysia’s commitment in reducing carbon emission under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” they said.
On Aug 30, Selangor executive councillor Hee Loy Sian stunned the state assembly when he said 536.7ha of the Kuala Langat (North) Forest Reserve had been de-gazetted three months ago.
The state government has since come under fire for the delayed announcement, a lack of transparency, and for going ahead with the de-gazettement despite widespread objections.
After facing criticism from environmental groups, civil society, and lawmakers, Selangor MB Amirudin Shari supposedly said he would postpone the de-gazettement process until the air was cleared. Malaysiakini has yet to obtain confirmation from his office about this.
The Kuala Langat (North) Forest Reserve is a peat swamp forest recognised as the habitat for the Malayan sun bear, Langat red fighting fish, the Selangor pygmy flying squirrel and meranti trees.
It is also a source of livelihood and food for the surrounding Temuan Orang Asli.