Selangor could face disasters like Kelantan if Bukit Cerakah development left unchecked, Nik Nazmi warns

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Selangor could face catastrophic environmental destruction if the planned development in the Shah Alam Community Forest Area (SACF) is not implemented in a controlled manner, Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad reportedly warned.

Nik Nazmi pointed out that the risk of disasters such as major floods could occur like in Kelantan when its government decided to modify the Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) involving an area of 514,898 hectares, Utusan Malaysia reported.

“There is much more biodiversity and wildlife, we hope that the matter can be given serious attention by the state government,” he was quoted saying, referring to the value of forests in urban areas.

“If it is not done in a controlled manner, there will be an impact. For that reason, any development measure needs to be well planned and discussed with the community to ensure minimal impact on the environment.

“This is a matter of legacy because it involves a decision made before [the announcement of HSKBC] but we are monitoring it closely,” he added.

The report stated that there are claims that the SAFC, which is part of the Bukit Cerakah Permanent Forest Reserve (HSKBC) with an area of 406 hectares, would be split in two for road construction works.

He said any action by the state government should be first discussed with the local community to find the best way to reduce the effects on the environment.

The report stated that the road constructions in the SACF area are believed to cause the size of the forest, which some are still under legal review in court, to shrink and at the same time destroy the habitat of wild animals.

In 2022, the Selangor government approved the degazetting of approximately 406.22 hectares of HSKBC backdated to November 2000, causing a legal review to be taken by the SACF together with environmental group Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) when the process was allegedly not replaced and there was no public hearing.

Previously, it was reported that the HSKBC, which originally covered an area of approximately 12,892 hectares, has been degazetted 21 times within 96 years since 1924.

HSKBC was first gazetted as a forest reserve by the British Government on March 3, 1909.

Nik Nazmi said the value of urban forests should be seen in the context of preventing floods because they can absorb water and moderate the temperature during hot weather.

He also pointed out that the Bukit Cerakah is still a virgin forest and can be gazetted as a recreational park as how it was done to Bukit Kiara and Bukit Dinding in the Setiawangsa area which were once rubber plantations.

“We understand that in urban areas a lot of forests were cut down. Temperature increases due to many concrete buildings. But this urban forest can help moderate the existing temperature in addition to being a recreational area.

“We have to appreciate that even if there is development around, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be completely cut down or have to be made into a park, but if it is maintained in the form of an urban forest, it still gives great value to the surrounding community,” he was quoted saying.

Source: Malay Mail