Malaysia: NGOs blast Selangor govt for deforestation; demands protection for forest reserves

DAWN CHAN New Straits Times 21 Apr 16;

SHAH ALAM: Six non-governmental organisations in a memorandum have called on the Selangor government to put an immediate halt to any efforts to degazette forest reserves to make way for highway projects in the state.

Referring to the Bukit Sungai Puteh Utara, Bukit Sungai Puteh Selatan, Bukit Cherakah and Sungai Buloh forest reserves which could be potentially degazetted for the projects, the NGOs said development must not come at the expense of nature.

Say No To Suke's Agos Hasan Ashari and five other NGOs said they supported Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah's recent call to 'green' Selangor.

"Any effort to 'green' Selangor must begin with an immediate halt to degazetting forest reserves which are very important to the people in the state," he said in a memorandum addressed to Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali today.

The other NGOs who have voiced their disappointment and objection to the Selangor government's degazettement of forest reserves are Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka), Sahabat Alam Malaysia, Malaysian Nature Society, Save Greenlungs and Say No To Dash.

The memorandum also gave several other suggestions to the state government which are that there should be no further degazettement of any forest reserves in Selangor.

They also asked for a face-to-face meeting with Azmin on the degazettement issue to understand the issue and find a solution acceptable to all parties.

The other suggestions are a detailed study to quantify and verify that the actual current total forest reserve areas in Selangor is above 31.56 per cent of the state's land area, and to undertake efforts to increase the current forest reserve areas to 40 per cent of the land area in Selangor, as a start.

The memorandum was handed over by Agos to Azmin's political secretary Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei at the lobby of the state secretariat building.

Peka Malaysia president Puan Seri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said while they are not against development, the diminishing of forest reserves also meant killing the flora and fauna as well as water catchment areas.

"Where are we going to have water catchment areas if all of the forest reserves are gone? Selangor does not have many forests left and if it keeps wanting development and cutting down forests, we will be in deep trouble soon," she said.

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