Nik Nazmi: Central Forest Spine initiative will address human-wildlife conflict
KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 — The government is in the midst implementing the Central Forest Spine (CFS) initiative in Peninsular Malaysia, Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said.
In a collaboration with respective state governments, the minister said with the CFS in place, it will improve connectivity of isolated forest areas through the establishment of an ecological network at the national level.
“The need for CFS area will also help to reduce the human-wildlife conflict, due to forest fragmentation and obstruction of wildlife natural passage caused by development projects.
“However, the establishment of the CFS can only be successful by reconnecting the four main forest complexes in Peninsular Malaysia by creating ecological corridors that have been identified.
“They are: the main-range of the Bintang-Nakawan Forest Complex, Greater Taman Negara Forest Complex, South East Pahang-Chini-Bera Forest Complex and the Endau Rompin-Ulu Sedili Forest Complex,” Nik Nazmi said in this winding up speech on the Budget 2023.
He was responding to DAP’s Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi who asked if the government would build an ecolink to connect the permanent forest reserves in Johor to enable wildlife such as elephants to move to the permanent forest reserves that have been fragmented by highways or oil palm estates without negatively impacting farmers or local residents.
Nik Nazmi added that the CFS initiative will be implemented by introducing the Master Plan for Ecological Linkages Central Forest Spine (PIRECFS) 2022 which had and will be implemented in several phases from 2022 until 2040 involving 12 ministries, 11 federal agencies, 96 state agencies, 18 government-linked companies and statutory bodies and 26 non-governmental organisations or civil society organisations.
The implementation of PIRECFS involves eight states including Johor, where three proposed CFS ecological network plans are located in Johor.
They are: Labis forest reserve — Sembrong additional forest reserve — Lenggor — Mersing forest reserve; Panti forest reserve — Ulu Sendili; and Panti forest reserve — Seluyut forest reserve.
“With the implementation of PIRECFS, several wildlife crossings have been identified in the ecological network area to facilitate wildlife crossing the road to avoid human-wildlife conflict.
“Therefore, I’m hopeful that with the establishment of this ecological corridor, it will be able to help deal with human-wildlife conflict issues in the future,” he said.
Earlier, Wong said the human-wildlife conflict did not only happen in Orang Asli villages, but has reached the city centre.
“It’s really bad, that the elephants are even looking for food in the residents’ kitchen,” she said referring to an incident which happened in Kelantan.
Among other actions taken by the ministry to address human-wildlife conflict included discussion with stakeholders who are involved in developing land in elephant habitat areas whereby they should make available elephant crossing or corridor.
“The shrinking elephant habitats should also have fruits which are elephant’s source of food, should be planted to reduce elephants dependency on residents’ plants as food source,” he said.
On January 12, it was reported that two elephants that were separated from their herd entered the compound of the houses in the neighbourhood by damaging the gate.
In another encounter in Gua Musang, Kelantan, an elephant was captured in a video which went viral, showing it smashing its head through a kitchen window looking for food, on January 4.