Malaysia: Templer Park under threat

Nicholas Cheng and Noel Foo The Star 20 Nov 12;

PETALING JAYA: Rampant logging and development are threatening the natural beauty of Templer Park.

The Malaysian Nature Society said it was alarmed over the construction of an elevated highway and the planned building of luxury bungalows in the park.

MNS Selangor branch chairman Henry Goh said approvals for these projects should be retracted because they contradicted the Selangor State Structure Plan and the Selayang Municipal Council Local Plan.

“These projects are completely at odds with the Government's pledge to hold a moratorium on logging in forest reserves and the promise to consult the public before any development takes place in green areas,” he added.

Over 39.44ha of the Kanching Forest Reserve is being cleared for a 60m-high elevated highway called the Rawang Bypass.

It was reported that the federal project, carried out by developer Panzana Enterprise Sdn Bhd, is under the Public Works Department and was approved in 2005.

At the fringe of the reserve, 6.29ha of hillslopes at a private lot near Bukit Takun have been approved by the Selayang Municipal Council for the building of 60 luxury bungalows.

Nearby residents said they were told the project would involve clearing Class 3 and 4 hillslopes of 25 degrees and above 35 degrees respectively.

It was reported that only national infrastructure development projects are allowed on such slopes.

The Selangor Government had previously frozen development on such land pending proper guidelines.

Goh said the projects could threaten the “ecological integrity” of the park, which is a water catchment area as well as a natural habitat of rare species of wildlife and trees.

“Studies by MNS reveal that the Rawang Bypass project could affect the rare Hopea subalata tree population. Moreover, an investigation by the Wildlife Department on the Bukit Takun housing project confirms that the area designated for development is a natural habitat of an endangered species of serow,” he said.

Forest Research Institute Malaysia botanist Dr Lilian Chua said the Hopea subalata was a rare, endemic species found only in the Kanching Forest Reserve.

“Hopea subalata is confined to certain parts of the forest reserve and has very low adult population densities. This is reason enough to conserve the area,” said Dr Chua in a 2004 paper in the Journal of Tropical Forest Science.

Experts believe the bypass project would cut through compartments where Hopea subalata was found and estimate a 10% decimation of its population.

World Wildlife Fund Malaysia species conservation manager Dr Han Kwai Hin said the Sumatran serow (Capricornis sumatraensis) was a species of goat-like mammal which he estimated to number about 500-750 in the country.

“They are solitary creatures with a low reproductive success rate,” he said.

“They are highly sensitive to habitat disturbance, let alone habitat destruction.”

Groups want park projects halted
The Star 20 Nov 12;

PETALING JAYA: Environmental organisations have slammed plans for development in Templer Park and want the projects halted.

Environmental Protection Society Malaysia president Nithi Nesadurai expressed his concern over logging in what was initially gazetted as a forest reserve.

“Templer Park has for decades served as a green space and recreational area for the public. With the rapid development in Greater Klang Valley, it is essential that these green spaces are left as they are,” he said.

EcoKnights president Yasmin Rasyid said she was surprised that approvals for development in the area could be given and hoped the development would be halted.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) communications head Andrew Sebastian said: “We should not sacrifice crucial areas of our forests for commercial reasons.”

Templer Villa Residence Association chairman Thay Peng Kee said residents were peeved by silt and mudslides caused by land clearing activities that were clogging up roads.

On the same issue, authorities are claiming the projects are being closely monitored to ensure minimal damage.

Selangor Forestry Department director Yusoff Muda said the Rawang Bypass development project was being done in the Kanching Forest Reserve.

He said the bypass was a Federal Government project under the Public Works Department to alleviate traffic congestions in Rawang, but added that it was carefully planned to have little impact on the reserve.

Yusoff added that JKR would launch an effort to replant and “green” the area again after the project was completed.

On claims that rare Hopea subalata trees would be affected by logging, state executive councillor for tourism, consumer affairs and environment Elizabeth Wong said all trees felled had been identified and catalogued.

“No tree of that species has been cut down,” she said.

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