Sunday, 8 June 2008

Forest Reserves: Gone in five years

2008/06/08 New Straits Times, Malaysia

Forest Reserves: Gone in five years

PERAK and Negri Sembilan experienced the biggest net loss in permanent forest reserves between 2001 and 2005.

Perak lost about 11,900ha, an area slightly larger than the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Negri Sembilan lost 8,800ha.Of the 11 states in the peninsula, Pahang is the only one which recorded an impressive net gain of 26,600ha, an area spanning half the Langkawi archipelago.

Perlis and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya registered no change.Negri Sembilan forestry director Ahmad Zainal said the excisions took place during the time of the former state government.

He said the state had marked two forested areas to be regazetted, but he could not provide the size.As of 2005, a quarter of Negri Sembilan was still covered with reserves.

On how the state was going to increase its permanent forest reserves considering that there were few reserves left to be regazetted, Ahmad said:"That's where you are wrong. Any state land can be planted back with forests and regazetted."There are such things as reforestation and afforestation."

Pahang, which excised 3,000ha but added 29,000ha, had 42 per cent of its total area under forest reserves.The bulk of the addition came from the gazettement of peat swamp forests, said its forestry department deputy director, Jalil Md Som."

These peat swamps are not to be logged or even touched although they are categorised as agriculture land. We have to keep them forested because of their importance as carbon sinks."Jalil said Pahang had always practised sustainable logging."For an area that has been logged, we have to wait 30 years for it to be rehabilitated before we are allowed to go in again."