10 December 2018 (Monday) – Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) has submitted its views and objections to the proposed degazettement and development of parts of the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve (FR) in Gombak. The official response was sent to the Selangor State Forestry Department (FD) on 6 December.
“We have been contacted by the media and civil society since 23 November to make our stand on this issue. Some of our visitors are accusing FRIM of being involved in the proposed degazettement. Some even thought that our decision to close off our Rover Track in 2016 was to make way for this,” said FRIM Director General Dato’ Dr Abd Latif Mohmod.
He explained that the proposed area for degazettement is located outside of FRIM’s jurisdiction, some 3.5 km from the research institute’s campus perimeters.
“Those living around the proposed area who feel unhappy with the degazettement should promptly send their objections officially to the state forestry department and not direct their frustration and anger towards FRIM,” he advised.
Nevertheless, he added, FRIM appreciates the public outcry over this issue as it reflects the increasing awareness among Malaysians on the importance of forest and environment conservation.
|Abd Latif urges all stakeholders to voice their concerns to the state forestry department.||The map showing the core (green) and buffer (blue) zones for the nomination of the FRIM Selangor Forest Park as a UNESCO WHS by 2020. Marked in red is the proposed degazettement area.|
Abd Latif said he is particularly concerned that the proposed development may affect FRIM’s chances of achieving the UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) status, apart from opening the floodgate of demands for further degazettement of the forest reserve for development purposes.
Working towards attaining the UNESCO WHS recognition since 2014, FRIM’s nomination for the Tentative List of the UNESCO WHS was accepted at the 41stWorld Heritage Committee (WHC) Meeting held in Krakow, Poland on 7 July 2017.
The Bukit Lagong FR serves as a buffer for the conservation of the 544-hectare FRIM campus, which has been gazetted under the National Heritage Act 2005 as a Natural Heritage in 2009 and declared as a National Heritage in 2012.
Among others, FRIM is of the view that the Bukit Lagong FR should remain intact because:
- It is an important water catchment which supplies water to the surrounding area;
- The development of this area, which is on a steep slope, will increase the risk of landslide and flood occurrences; and
- The proposed development will also adversely affect the lives of the nearby Orang Asli community.
A public hearing by the Selangor FD is being held to seek feedback on the degazettement proposal covering an area of 28.3ha in the forest reserve. The Selangor FD published a public notice on 23 November inviting all stakeholders in the Gombak district to voice their objections within 30 days.