Weak enforcement invites environmental disaster

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) reproached the authorities because weakness of enforcement has brought about environmental disaster such as the landslide in Lentang, Bentong District, Pahang on 11 November.

The relevant authorities should have learned from a number of disasters that had happened in the past and be more responsible and committed in managing the environment and natural resources.

The landslide is located on the main range, which is known as the “Central Forest Spine (CFS)”, Titiwangsa Range. According to the National Physical Plan (NPP), the region is categorised as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA), which needs to be conserved.

The geophysical characteristics and topography of the area is hilly with many rivulets and water sources and soil structure that is prone to erosion.

In general, SAM has identified a few activities that can contribute to environmental disasters in the region and in the CFS range.

Among the activities identified include uncontrolled logging such as felling trees in areas that are not allowed, logging outside the licensed or concession area that is also categorized as illegal logging, illegal encroachment of state forest land for agricultural purposes and a number of other activities which involve land-use conversion.

The authorities must understand that when the CFS which is categorized as ESA is exploited, and activities other than forest land-use are conducted, the impact will be on the forest hydrology.

Land surface that is exposed to high levels of rainfall will cause excess runoff, erosion of hillsides, structural damage of rivers and deterioration of water quality.

Forest cover that has trees and vegetation can collect rainfall, and decay on the forest floor protects the soil from direct impact of rainfall.

Thus SAM hopes that the relevant authorities curb and do not allow any more risky activities that will have an impact on the ESA especially in the Permanent Reserved Forest.

SAM also urges the State and the relevant authorities to comply and adopt physical plans especially the NPP and other related policies in addition to enforcing existing provisions of the law.

Press Statement, 13 November 2015