KUALA LUMPUR — May 29, 2017: With more forest reserves converted to mono-culture farming, environmentalists are worried that the trend will not only destroy the forest ecology but also contribute to deforestation.
Mono-culture farming leads to deforestation as the land can no longer be considered a forest. The other cause is logging.
“A forest consists of various types of plants and is of biological diversity. It functions as a water catchment area. Mono-culture farming only produces a single crop or livestock, and that is not what a forest is about,” said Sahabat Alam Malaysia field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman.
Citing examples, Meor Razak said statistics from the Kelantan Forestry Department show that 31 per cent (199,352 hectares) of the state’s forest reserves had been allocated to Timber Latex Clones rubber trees for logging.
Article 74 (2) of the federal Constitution stipulates that land and forest matters fall under the jurisdiction of the state.
This gives a state government the ultimate power to set the rules, govern and take care of forest reserves. Federal agencies can only provide advice and technical assistance to a state on land matters.
According to the Auditor-General report of 2008, the Kelantan government approved 2,200ha of forest reserves 1,000 metres above sea level for logging even though the affected areas — Tanah Tinggi Lojing, Sungai Betis and Sungai Brook — were supposed to be gazetted as protected forest reserves.
As for the deforestation in Peninsular Malaysia, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry statistics show that the total forested area in 2006 was 5,901,389ha. In 2015, it was 5,784,870ha. This means a decline of 116,519ha or a deforestation rate of 2 per cent over 10 years.
No statistics were recorded for Sabah and Sarawak although the governments said they had always been committed to preserving forest reserves.
Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar described the allegation of illegal logging, especially in Sarawak, as arguable.
He understsood that the Sarawak government’s stand on illegal logging remained the same as it was under the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem, who had vowed to combat illegal logging..
The Santubong MP also said that the definition of jungle does not include plantations such as rubber or oil palm estates..
“Planted forest and rehabilitated forest are considered a jungle but rubber and oil palm plantations are not,” he said. — Bernama