Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) strongly opposes the proposed changes in the Draft Kelantan State Structure Plan (Draf Rancangan Struktur Negeri – RSN), 7 Local Plans (Rancangan Tempatan – RT), and 1 Special Area Plan (Rancangan Kawasan Khas – RKK). This is because they contradict the Development Plan /National Physical Plan (Rancangan Fizikal Negara ke-4) at the national level, which needs to be translated, aligned, and detailed at the state planning level through RSN, RT, and RKK.
The proposed changes in the Kelantan State Development Plan – focus on the declassification of Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs). This was based on the decision of the 22nd Kelantan State Executive Council meeting convened on October 21, 2020, which decided that the Permanent Reserved Forest (PRF) are no longer classified as Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) in Kelantan, except the water catchment areas.
These proposed changes do not align with Section 6B(5) of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1976 (Act 172), which states that it is the general duty of the Federal Government and each State Government to help ensure that the goals of the National Physical Plan are achieved.
Based on the 4th National Physical Plan (RFN4), all protected areas that have been gazetted with the status of Permanent Reserved Forest (PRF) (functional class according to Section 10(1)(b – I) of the National Forestry Act 1984 [Act 313]), National Park, and areas with a contour that exceeds 1,000 metres from sea level (may it be with the status of PRF or State land) are categorised as Environmentally Sensitive Area Rank 1 (ESA Rank 1).
Apart from the classification of Water Catchment Forest according to Section (10)(1) of the National Forestry Act (Act 313) in Kelantan, there are also Soil Protection Forest, Virgin Jungle Reserved Forest (VJR), Amenity Forest, Education Forest, Research Forest, and State Park which are categorised as ESA Rank 1.
Meanwhile, state land forest areas with biodiversity importance but not gazetted as protected area, such as mangrove forest, PRF which is classified as Production Forest according to Section 10(1)(i) of the National Forestry Act 1984 (Act 313), Ecological Linkage Corridors ‘Central Forest Spine’ (CFS) and river reserves, are all categorised as ESA Rank 2.
There are other areas with biodiversity importance, especially the mangrove forest in Kelantan, Pasir Puteh District in particular.
There are a few Ecological Linkages CFS in Kelantan, especially in Gua Musang District, Jeli District, Machang District, Pasir Puteh District, and Kecil Lojing District.
SAM suggests that the Kelantan State Authorities maintain and conserve the existing PRF / forest zones under the Kelantan Forest Enactment as ESA Rank 1 and Rank 2.
SAM also suggests that the Kelantan State Authorities maintain and conserve the protected areas, especially National Park, as ESA Level 1.
Besides that, SAM suggests that the State Authorities maintain and conserve, as well as gazette the PRF, or conservation forest dedicated for public recreation (Amenity Forest), all of the State Land Forests under Section 7 of the Forest Enactment (Act 313) or Section 62(1) of the National Land Code 1965 as protected areas.
Apart from this, SAM also recommends that the Kelantan state government to gazette more areas within the PRF, state land forests and ecologically sensitive areas as either protection forests or conservation areas.
Di samping itu, SAM mencadangkan supaya Pihak Berkuasa Negeri mengekal dan memelihara serta mewartakan sebagai kawasan perlindungan sama ada HSK atau Rizab Tanah Bagi Maksud Awam (Hutan Perlindungan Rekreasi) semua Hutan Tanah Kerajaan di bawah Seksyen 7, Enakmen Perhutanan (Akta 313) atau Seksyen 62(1), Kanun Tanah Negara 1965.
Di samping itu, SAM mencadangkan supaya kerajaan negeri Kelantan mewartakan lebih banyak kawasan HSK, hutan kerajaan dan kawasan sensitiif alam sekitar di Kelantan sebagai hutan perlindungan atau kawasan konservasi.
These suggestions are aligned with one of the objectives of the National Forestry Policy, and also the goals and targets of the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia (JPSM) in 2020, which is to ensure the total area of the PRF in Peninsular Malaysia reaches 5 million hectares, as well as the recommendation to the Federal Government that all the state governments take efforts to protect existing protected areas and add new protected areas.
Without ESA classification as a safeguard measure, there is a huge risk of land use change for development or mining, which will involve forest clearance and consequently the loss of habitat for wildlife. The loss of forest and biodiversity will have negative impacts on the indigenous and local communities, on top of increasing the risk of more frequent floods.
Tanpa perlindungan sebagai KSAS, terdapat risiko besar bagi pengubahan guna tanah untuk pemajuan atau perlombongan yang akan melibatkan pembukaan hutan dan seterusnya kehilangan habitat bagi hidupan liar. Kehilangan hutan dan biodiversiti akan membawa impak negatif kepada komuniti orang asli dan tempatan, selain daripada menyebabkan banjir yang kerap.
Without protection as an ESA, there will be a huge risk of land use change for the affected areas for development or mining purposes. These will then entail forest clearance and consequently, the loss of habitat for wildlife. This loss of forests and biodiversity will also create negative impacts on local and indigenous communities, apart from causing flooding.
The Kelantan State Authorities should also heed the advice of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Climate Change (NRECC) via the two media statements on October 27 and 28, 2023, as well as its letter to the Chief Minister of Kelantan.
We call upon the Kelantan State Authorities to reconsider and cancel the proposed changes to the Kelantan State Development Plan, which eliminates most of the ESAs.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)
Press Statement, 9 November 2023