The Perak state government must be more serious in protecting and conserving Permanent Reserved Forests and other natural protected areas in Perak

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is disappointed with the Perak State Government for not taking serious measures to protect and conserve the Permanent Reserved Forests (PRF) and other natural protected areas in the State even though the Menteri Besar of Perak had made a commitment during the 41st World Forestry Day national level celebration on 21 March 2012.

SAM had previously submitted a few letters and memoranda relating to forestry issues to the Menteri Besar and the State Government of Perak. (Letters dated 25 February 2011 and 16 November 2011; and memoranda submitted to the Menteri Besar’s Special Assistant in May 2010 and 21 March, 2012). SAM has yet to receive official feedback to these letters and memoranda besides verbal statement from some of the authorities concerned.

SAM’s assertion is based on the more frequent excision of PRFs in accordance with Section 11 of the National Forestry Act, 1984 by the State Authority. But these excisions are not followed by replacement of the PRFs in accordance with Section 12 of the National Forestry Act, 1984.

According to the Perak Government Gazette (Vol. 65; dated 7 March 2012) the State Authority had excised fourteen gazetted PRFs amounting to a total area of 1,855.34 hectares.

The total number of PRFs that have been excised since 2009 to date (21 May 2009 – 2 March 2012) is about 8,548.83 hectares (not including doubts in the publication of the Gazette).

The increasing frequency of excision of PRFs is worrying and if the State Authority is not serious in its commitment as stated by the Menteri Besar, we foresee more PRFs will be excised in the near future.

SAM does not deny the jurisdiction and the rights of the State Authority to excise either the entire or a portion of a particular PRF, but not for the sole purpose of development and economic growth as the main justification, specifically if the excised PRF is not replaced with an equal area of forest land.

SAM also found that the State Authority gave answers that are not factual and misleading in relation to the replacement of excised PRFs, to a written question during the first meeting of the fifth term of the twelfth State Assembly of Perak on 3 April 2012.

The written response stated that since 1993, the area which has been replaced and gazetted as PRF covers 1,519.43 hectares but SAM found that these areas were not   replaced but re-gazetted.

For example, about 487 hectares of the Teluk Muroh Reserved Forest was excised on 29 September 1988 and was partially re-gazetted, covering approximately 89.83 hectares on 28 April 2004.  However about 121.16 hectares was excised again on 6 January 2010.

In fact, SAM found that in the past few years, the State Authority has not referred to the Forestry Department for a review or comment although the Department is the responsible authority in relation to PRFs.

In general, excision and (destruction) of PRFs either partially or entirely is contradictory and inconsistent with the National Forestry Policy (NDP) and the National Physical Plan (NPP).

SAM hopes that the State Authority and Menteri Besar of Perak will pay serious attention and take measures to ensure the protection and conservation of forests in Perak.

Letter to the Editor, 10 May 2012