Malaysia: Restoring greenery at Pahang reserves

New Straits Times 23 Sep 14;

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Rampant forest-clearing and illegal logging activities at the country’s largest hill retreat here has prompted the forestry department to embark on replanting activities to restore the greenery.

Besides serving as a water-retention agent, the trees would also reduce the risk of soil erosion and flooding.

Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia director-general Professor Datuk Dr Abd Rahman Abd Rahim said several types of saplings had been identified for the project, including pines such as casuarina and the dark red meranti.

“The Pahang Forestry Department has already started the project, where they replanted timber saplings in forest reserves, which were damaged due to uncontrolled land-clearing activities.

“The department also seeks the assistance of environmental-based non-governmental organisations, university students and the locals to help with the programmes.

“At the same time, we will monitor and take action against those who damage the timber saplings at the forest reserves,” he said after participating in a replanting programme at the Terla Forest Reserve here yesterday.

Rahman said his department were focused on combating the encroachment of forest areas for farming activities, which are on the rise.

“I have instructed the state Forestry Department to conduct patrols, nab the culprits and bring them to court.

“This is the only way to teach them a lesson and put a stop to their activities.

“Our enforcement team will work together with the local councils to look into the matter.

“They continue to destroy the forests despite being warned and punished by the authorities,” he said, adding that the public could act as the department’s “eyes and ears” by reporting any illegal land-clearing activities.

Cameron Highlands, famous for its tea and strawberries, made headlines for the wrong reasons last year when irresponsible quarters encroached the forest reserves to set up vegetable farms, which had contributed to soil erosion and river pollution.