Malaysia: Pahang govt to cancel projects in Merapoh if land clearing activities found harmful to environment

T N ALAGESH New Straits Times 4 Dec 17;

KUANTAN: The state government is prepared to put the brakes on all land clearing activities at Mukim Batu Yon in Merapoh, Kuala Lipis, if such activities were found to harm the ecosystem and water catchment areas.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said matters concerning Merapoh should have been informed to him at the beginning so that the logging and land clearing works could have been halted much earlier.

"The logging activities are under Yayasan Pahang (YP) while the land clearing works are for an oil palm plantation belonging to the Pahang Agriculture Development Corp (LKPP). The piece of land was given to LKPP in 1992. We were only recently notified about the logging activities.

"If the site serves as an important water catchment area, we will cancel the projects. YP can find other areas for logging while LKPP has to move elsewhere for oil should not be a problem as the Menteri Besar is the chairman for both YP and LKPP," he told reporters after opening the conference on Sustainable and Responsible Mineral Resources Development in Malaysia here today.

He was commenting on the recent logging activities in Merapoh which prompted the State Department of Environment on Nov 27 to issue a two-week stop work notice and instruction to start rehabilitating the land.

This was following reports that the logging activities were conducted close to 669 hectares around Gua Hari Malaysia (Malaysia Day Cave) which had high tourism potential and was a source of clean water to around 10,000 residents in eight villages.

Meanwhile, Adnan said those who had information about projects that could pose a threat to the environment in Pahang should come forward and inform the relevant authorities, including himself.

"Do not wait till things get out of control....the trees have been cut and then only do they come to inform. We want to cooperate and work together....tak kan Menteri Besar nak kena bawa pita ukur untuk ukur semua (don't tell me that as the Menteri Besar I will have to go to the ground with a measuring tape and check the areas myself)," he said.

Govt willing to stop Merapoh projects
The Star 5 Dec 17;

KUANTAN: The Pahang government is willing to cancel logging and development projects in the Merapoh Forest near here after taking into account the significance of the area as a water catchment.

The a decision will be seen as a victory for local environmental groups who have been lobbying against the projects.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said the project would have been cancelled had he been inform­ed about it much earlier.

The logging project, he said, was under Yayasan Pahang while the development of the oil palm plantation was on land belonging to the Pahang Agricultural Development Board (LKPP).

“The LKPP land was given in 1992. The problem now is that we were informed late.

“If it is critical as a water catchment, we can cancel it.

“Yayasan can look for another place to log, LKPP can find another area for its oil palm. It is not too difficult because the mentri besar is both chairman of the Yayasan and LKPP,” he said after opening the Conference on Sustainable and Res­pon­sible Mineral Resources ­Deve­­­­­­­­­­lo­p­ment in Malaysia here yesterday.

Also present was Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minis­ter Datuk Seri Dr Hamim Samuri.

Adnan said those who knew that the project could have an impact on the environment should have informed him immediately and not wait until the damage is done.

“Do not wait until the forest has been cut down to tell me.

“We must work together – do not just keep saying negative things about the mentri besar.

“Don’t expect the mentri besar to bring a measuring tape to measure everything,” he said.

Logging activities in Merapoh became a heated issue late October through the involvement of environmental groups that led to the solidarity of the inter­­­­­national community on social media through #savemerapoh.

The logging, carried out to open up a road for the transportation of forest products before work on an oil palm estate begins, had also caught the attention of the Federal Government.

On Nov 30, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was reported to have said he had instructed the director-general of the Department of Environment to issue a stop-work order for all activities in that forest. — Bernama