Call for Moratorium on Development Works in the Forested Areas bordering the Bukit Cerakah Forest Reserve
The Persatuan Pemilik & Penduduk Bukit Bayu, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES) and Global Environment Centre (GEC) jointly call for a moratorium on Development Projects in the Forested Areas bordering the Bukit Cerakah Forest Reserve
The forests of Bukit Cerakah previously covered several thousand hectares, stretching all the way to Kota Damansara and FRIM in the past. Much of the low-lying forest have been converted into housing areas. Only a small remnant of the original rainforest remains and it is Shah Alam’s last remaining lowland forest.
The development project next to Bukit Bayu, Shah Alam, has raised many concerns and questions amongst the residents of Bukit Bayu and neighbouring townships regarding its impact on their safety and security. Residents fear development work will increase human wildlife conflict. Mr Gobindran, chairman of the Persatuan Pemilik & Penduduk Bukit Bayu questioned the authorities why there has been no notification regarding the development project nor any signboard providing information on the project mounted at the site. He also expressed the residents’ concern that the jungle trek used by residents and hikers would be destroyed as a result of the development. The residents also objected to their private road being used to carry out activities under the development project.
The residents want the relevant authorities to provide answers to the following:
1. What is the ownership status of the land?
2. What are the conditions relating to the land use?
3. Has the land office issued permission to any party to develop the land
4. In the case permission to develop has been issued, is an environment impact assessment required as the area is bordering a forest reserve?
The surrounding areas leading to the project site in question are hilly, forming a natural water catchment that drains rain water to the foothills and forms natural wetlands, with meandering rivers and fresh water bodies. This was confirmed by visiting the site and reviewing pictures posted of the site and its wildlife. The area is considered an environmentally sensitive area looking from the point of climate and hydrological balance. Any development in the area would cause habitat fragmentation and loss of forest connectivity to the Bukit Cerakah Forest Reserve and its Extension. Currently, the area acts as part of a corridor connecting forest in the agriculture park to forest in catchment of Tasek
Subang Reservoir. The loss of connectivity might disturb the natural flow of water to the surrounding area and the reservoir itself. The development will also have long term impact by changing the natural hydrology of the area, from being a sponge (holding water and releasing it slowly) to that of increasing surface runoff and fast flowing water that could cause flash floods in surrounding areas. Problems relating to soil erosion and landslides would most probably be a yearly occurrence.
The forest at the project site is mature forest with trees reaching a height of more than 30 meters. In such a forest there is a wealth of biodiversity, typical of a lowland dipterocarp forest
and a richness in both arboreal and ground dwelling wildlife. For example, there are at least 4 species of primates including lowland gibbons inhabiting the forest canopies. The large ground dwelling mammals include the endangered Tapir and elusive Sun bear. Fragmentation of the forest habitat will not only reduce the viability of wildlife populations, but further expose them
to threats of poaching because of easy access and close proximity to human habitation.
Development of the area will chip away part of the good forest adjacent to Bukit Cerakah Forest Reserve which already an isolated nature refugia in many ways. The existing forest already plays an important role as a recreational area and is revered for its esthetic value by locals.
With development comes drainage which will have a direct impact on the existing freshwater habitat at the forested foothills. The rivers & related water bodies will be dried (lost) and transformed for good. This will have irreversible impact on unique freshwater species (e.g the riparian plants & fish species) restricted to the ecosystem. It will also have indirect impact on other wildlife species (e.g. Tapir & bird species) which might be dependent to the river & water bodies in the area.
Mr Shanmugaraj, Executive Director of MNS questioned how such a development could be allowed in this area without a comprehensive environment management plan drawn up. He said, “Our recent research in the local plans points that the area should be kept untouched as it is an environmentally sensitive area – meaning the impact of any development would have far reaching consequences to the surrounding environment and the people living in the area. It is also important that a social impact study should be conducted, together with economic valuation of the ecosystem services. That way the benefits and loss of such a project can be better assessed, thus providing for better informed decision making”.
Ms Leela Panikkar, Director of TrEES said, “Conserving these additional forested areas is
important for connectivity and wildlife movement of the larger ground dwelling mammals such
as the Tapir that is an endangered species.”
Preserving the lowland forest area does not mean we are depriving development. It is quite the opposite. Retaining, restoring and preserving this priceless lowland forest in Selangor will contribute towards making cities and towns surrounding the forest safe, resilient and sustainable in the long run.
Besides that, well-functioning lowland forest ecosystems also have greater resilience to climate change, enhanced economic and biodiversity benefits and contribute towards sustainable development in Selangor State.
Mr. Faizal Parish, GEC’s Director who is also an international wetland expert said, “This forest is a portion of one of the few remaining lowland forests on mineral soil in Selangor state with significant biodiversity and maintains the ecosystem services for the surrounding landscape.We believe the many values of this forest and an environmentally sensitive area needs to be conserved and gazetted as a permanent reserved forest for future generations so that they too can be inspired and amazed by its incredible beauty and diversity”.
We must target the future of human beings in this area and encourage collaboration across boundaries if we want to conserve the remaining biodiversity of this Bukit Cerakah Forest area. The quality life of locals depends directly on quality of the surrounding environment.
The wise action of this moment is to know the probability of future problems encountered in this area and to formulate and make policies to preserve and avoid any undesirable incidents that may endanger the lives of the people and to the loss of a lot of people and government money later on.
Persatuan Pemilik & Penduduk Bukit Bayu
Malaysian Nature Sociey
Treat Every Environment Special
Global Environment Centre
About Malaysian Nature Society (MNS):
Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) is the oldest and largest membership-based environmental
nongovernmental organization in Malaysia. Established in 1940, its mission is to promote the
study, appreciation, conservation and protection of Malaysia’s natural heritage. MNS has been
the main force behind the protection of many key habitats as well as national, marine and
state parks in Malaysia.
For more information on MNS, please visit www.mns.my and
About Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES):
Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES) is a non-profit organisation established in 1995 to
conserve and protect Malaysia’s environment. We partner with communities to run
programmes that empower people to become actively involved in conserving the environment.
TrEES collaborates with other non-governmental organisations in advocating the protection
of green lungs and forest reserves. We also provide advice and services to communities that
face environmental issues.
For more information on TrEES, please visit www.trees.org.my and
About Global Environment Centre
Global Environment Centre was established in 1998 to work on environmental issues of global
importance. The Centre is registered in Malaysia as a non-profit organisation but works
regionally and internationally both directly and through many partners. It supports information
exchange and capacity building as well as undertakes strategic projects particularly in
developing countries. It works in partnership with other like-minded agencies worldwide.
For more information on the Global Environment Centre please visit www.gec.org.my
For more information/media enquiries, please contact:
PERSATUAN PEMILIK & PENDUDUK BUKIT BAYU
1. Gobindran A/L Krishna Murthy – 012 281 7474
2. Captain Nazrie – 019 728 2525
MALAYSIAN NATURE SOCIETY
1. IS Shanmugaraj A/L Subramaniam
016 289 3912
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
TREAT EVERY ENVIRONMENT SPECIAL
1. Leela Panikkar
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT CENTRE
1. Nagarajan Rengasamy
Coordinator, Forest & Coastal Programme
012 296 8438