News: Call to Preserve Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve Intensifies

Dec 7, 2018


Many are still opposing the proposed degazettement and development of the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve in Gombak even as the state government said that a replacement forest reserve had already been identified.

“The replacement land is also a forest owned by Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS),” said State Environment, Green Technology, Consumer and Non-Islamic Affairs Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian in the state assembly on Wednesday (5 December).

“It is located below Broga Hill…It is already a forested area and will be gazetted as forest reserve. The area is much larger than the one in Bukit Lagong.”

He explained that the government decided to have the 28.3ha land – which is surrounded by housing developments – degazetted as it is no longer suitable as a forest reserve.

In fact, a planning approval for a proposed residential project at Bukit Lagong was awarded to PKNS in 2003 by the Selangor State Executive Council (MMKN) – or way before the proposal to degazette the area, reported The Star.

In opposing the degazettement of the forest reserve, Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) senior advisor Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor called on state authorities not to disturb gazetted forest, especially one that is as strategic as Bukit Lagong.

“There are other forested areas that are degraded which can be utilised, but not an area as strategic as Bukit Lagong,” he said.

“If there is a need for more housing, Selangor has many abandoned housing projects that should be seriously looked into before opening up more land.”

MNS along with Treat Every Environment Special (Trees) and Global Environment Center (GEC) believe that degazetting the forest will jeopardise the movement of animals living within the area as well as affect the livelihood of indigenous communities there.

This comes as the identified area is considered as one of the last wildlife corridors that connect the forest reserve to the Templer and Kanching recreational forests, which are part of the Selangor State Parks, said MNS president Ahmad Ismail.

The state park is accorded highest protection as it is classified Rank 1 Environmentally Sensitive Area under the National Physical Plan.

“Breaking this link will cause the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve to become an ‘island’ and the entire forest ecosystem will be doomed…Even the area’s microclimate will be affected, which will have a cascading effect on the forest’s biodiversity,” he said.

Developing the forest could also affect over 100 species of birds, he said.

“The noise from the construction will be a major factor. Any trees cut down will jeopardise nesting sites…Additionally, it can affect flight paths of migratory birds.”

Aside from these, any development within the area would also affect the livelihoods of indigenous communities.

“The Bukit Lagong orang asli, who live close to the forest reserve’s boundary, rely heavily on forest resources for their sustenance and also for their income,” said GEC Outreach and Partnership Programme coordinator Adelaine Tan.

Meanwhile, the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) said the state should keep the forest reserve intact as it is an important water catchment supplying water to its surrounding area, and developing it will only increase the risk of landslide and flood occurrences as well as affect the lives of orang asli community living nearby.

Developing the area could also affect FRIM’s chances of attaining the Unesco World Heritage Site (WHS) status.

FRIM has been working to achieving Unesco WHS recognition since 2014. Its nomination for the Tentative List of the Unesco WHS was accepted last year at the 41st World Heritage Committee Meeting.


Image source: The Star


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