Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is disappointed and objects the approval allegedly given by the Perak State Authority for development of monoculture plantations in Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve (HS Kledang Saiong) and Bukit Kinta Forest Reserve (HS Bukit Kinta) in the Forest District of Kinta Manjung which is going viral in social media. We also object other monoculture plantation development projects planned in the state.
SAM views that the policy on promoting the development of forest plantations (monoculture plantation) within Permanent Reserved Forests (PRF) should be abolished.
Typically, the justification and grounds of State Authorities to approve a monoculture plantation development project is that the identified areas are defined as poor forests or degraded forests.
It is to be noted that a PRF in Malaysia becomes a poor forest or degraded forest not because of natural factors but due to human factors, especially encroachment and illegal exploration.
In addition, lack of monitoring and enforcement measures by the authorities to prohibit encroachment and illegal activities in the PRF have escalated the problem.
To address the issue and problem of poor or degraded forests in the PRF, the Department of Forestry Peninsular Malaysia (JPSM) has established silvicultural programmes and the development of natural forests, especiallyenrichment planting and restoration or rehabilitation of degraded areas.
Based on previous observations and field surveys by SAM, most monoculture plantation development areas did not comply with the criterion of establishing monoculture plantation as in Kelantan.
Among our findings with regards to monoculture plantation development that do not comply with the criterion of establishing monoculture plantations are: –
- hilly topography and terrain;
- stocks of rich tree stands (not poor forest);
- destruction and exploitation of river reserves (riparian zone) (for example in Gunung Besout Forest Reserve [HS Gunung Besout], South Perak Forest District);
- violation of indigenous peoples’ territory; and
- the destruction of wildlife habitats and corridors, especially large mammals such as elephants and tigers (for example in Piah Forest Reserve [HS Piah], Kuala Kangsar Forest District).
When forest land-use in a PRF is converted for the implementation of monoculture plantation development, it will negatively impact the biodiversity function of the forest.
It will also affect the achievement of sustainable forest management that is central to the management of the nation’s forests.
Before a monoculture plantation in a PRF is developed, the original forest cover (natural forest) will be harvested by clear felling of the trees.
Clear-cutting is not subject to ‘sustainable forest management’ for the purpose of standardization and certification of forests and Annual Allowable Cut.
It is more reasonable and appropriate that monoculture plantation development programmes are implemented and promoted in idle state and private land.
Therefore, SAM hopes that the State Authority will review and take measures to revoke the approval of the monoculture plantation development programmes that are being planned and yet to be implemented in thePermanent Reserved Forests in Perak.
S. M. MOHAMED IDRIS