Monday, September 27, 2021

Green coalition slams Selangor, calls for boycott of development on forest clearings

It criticises Selangor for 'taking a step backwards' by converting forests into developments.

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A coalition of environmental groups today hit out at the Selangor government’s controversial decision to transfer hundreds of hectares of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) to a private developer, urging banks and the public to have nothing to do with investments in areas developed from such forest clearings.

The Malaysian Environmental NGOs (Mengo), made up of about a dozen environmental groups, also took the state to task over its claim that the 530-hectare area awarded to a private company was degraded, saying it was critical in maintaining biodiversity.

“The KLNFR is mainly peat swamp forest, with smaller areas of lowland dipterocarp forest. Peatlands are critical for preserving global biodiversity, providing safe drinking
water, minimising flood risk and helping to address climate change,” the coalition said.

It said members affiliated with it had attended public hearings last year to voice their objections.

“Should the area continue to be degazetted, Mengo calls upon investors and financial institutions to refrain from providing financing to develop the area,” it said.

It said the public must also “refrain from buying or renting the properties”.

“Likewise, household-brand names should not place their products in a commercial area tainted with infringement against conservation and sustainable development goals held dear by us as Malaysians,” it added.

On Monday, Selangor’s exco in charge of environment Hee Loy Sian told the state assembly that the PKR-led government had degazetted more than 530 hectares of the KLNRF for a mixed commercial development by Gabungan Indah Sdn Bhd.

The area was part of lush forest reserve gazetted in 1927, covering more than 7,000 hectares, although only about 13% of that area remains a green lung today.

Mengo said to replace the loss of degazetted forest, the Selangor government had said that some 580 hectares of land in Sabak Bernam, Hulu Selangor and Hulu Langat had been approved as replacement areas.

“We wish to support the notion that these stateland forests should indeed be gazetted, but that they should not be gazetted as replacement of the lost forest in KLNFR,” it said.

It urged the state to reverse its decision and regazette the KLNFR area as a forest reserve, and to stop any forest clearing from taking place.

“In a time when the impacts of the climate crisis are being experienced globally, the richest state in Malaysia has taken a step backwards in converting forests into development.

“In fact, Selangor should play a more active role in increasing its forest cover and protection,” it said, adding that at 31%, Selangor had one of the lowest percentages of forest cover in the country, far below the national target of 50%.

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