Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The disappearing forest of Sungai Buloh

"vincent chen yew ling" vincent66ling@yahoo.com

Please read the article by the title of "The disappearing forest of Sungai Buloh",
at http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/Streets/Friday/Stories/2202812/Article/

The disappearing forest of Sungai Buloh

Subashini Nair
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Jeffrey Phang is concerned that the Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve is shrinking.
Jeffrey Phang is concerned that the Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve is shrinking.

FROM a massive 1,600ha some 100 years ago, the Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve has been reduced to just about 140ha by unrelenting development.

Even the swamp at the Kota Damansara Community Forest Park is getting shallower.
Even the swamp at the Kota Damansara Community Forest Park is getting shallower.

At the rate things are going, the Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve, which is the oldest forest reserve in the country (it was gazetted in 1898), won't be a forest any more.

Imagine cruising along the North-South Highway, and as you enter Kota Damansara, you see only concrete jungle with not a single tree in sight. No natural green lungs and no majestic trees playing host to rich flora and fauna.

If tomorrow dawns without trees, the future will be grim.

The simple, universal fact of no trees, no life may not appeal to us until it is too late.

But this might just be the situation if the proposed Kota Damansara Community Forest Park, the last surviving portion of what was once the mighty Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve, is allowed to be developed.

This would rob the Selangor people and their future generations of the only surviving secondary forest reserve.

The status of the remaining forest has been questioned by the Friends of Kota Damansara after it was de-gazetted to house mixed development and a Muslim cemetery as stated in the Petaling Jaya Local Draft Plan 2.

The destruction of the forest reserve will be irreversible and a lost heritage for the communities of Kota Damansara and the surrounding areas.

However, all is not lost. The Selangor State Government will push for the local draft plan to be reviewed with focus on protecting green lungs, especially the Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve.

The newly elected Kota Damansara state assemblyman, Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim, has given his assurance that the green lung and controversial Muslim cemetery at the forest reserve will remain.

The Friends of Kota Damansara, formed to fight for the preservation of the forest, will not rest until the Local Draft plan is revised and the forest gazetted again.

The group, together with the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) as adviser, has started a campaign to preserve the forest.

They even managed to obtain RM380,000 from the United Nations Development Programme through its Small Grants Programme towards establishing the park with facilities for the community.

Today, the forest is rich in wildlife, hosting 227 species of birds such as black bellied malkohas, crested serpent eagles, kingfishers, broadbills, dollar birds and even the rare Argus pheasant. Eight species of mammals and 25 species of reptiles are also found in the area.

It is now being used by people from all over Selangor. School children and corporate bodies also conduct activities there. The question, however, remains: will the forest be permanently gazetted as a forest reserve?

Co-chairman of the group, Jeffery Phang, said the forest has become an ecological platform for education and awareness. As such, he said preservation of the forest in crucial for the future generations.

"Indiscriminate development is a concern for everyone as it is not due to lack of planning but due to business motivation. This will result in destroying the country's natural resources in order to satisfy the greed of some quarters.

"It is usually the case of clearing the land, building houses and allocating a small portion of area as playground or park for the community.

"This is no longer enough because the amount of damage caused is irreversible. They should start building around the green lungs," he said adding that no one will ever be able to grow back these trees, not to its present state, unless it takes 300 years.

"There is only one conclusion, development breeds greed. I refuse to believe that the people approving the plan do not realise the dangers of an unplanned development.

"We are not against development. We are only against unplanned development, as it would result in massive congestion, flooding and climatic changes.

"After the damage they have created, they will come up with flood mitigation projects that would cost millions.

Jones Gabriel Ponudurai, chairman of Friends of Kota Damansara (FOKD), said: "Don't they realise that the forest provides clean, reliable surface water for streams and lakes and at the same time helps prevent flooding, sedimentation, soil erosion and surface damage? Development is for the people only if it is sustainable."

He added that many residents have migrated as they felt nothing would change and things would only worsen.

FOKD, which was formed in 2002, consists of 15 residents associations and the number is still growing.

"The bigger we are, the louder we will be and we want to be heard.

"We hope that the government listens to the community more, " Jones added.

The group will be the voice for Kota Damansara, addressing issues and problems affecting its community. Their objective is to turn Kota Damansara into a model township by aligning Petaling Jaya City Council policies with community perspectives in accordance with the council's Local Agenda 21 (LA21).

"LA21 has been established for some time and the council has been reasonable in implementing it. However, we now want to pick up the momentum and ensure its effectiveness with the involvement of the community."

Chronology of events stated in The Friends of Kota Damansara website.

How much longer will this last? Even the swamp at the Kota Damansara Community Forest Park is getting shallower.


  • Jan 14, 1898 - the Selangor government gazetted an area of 6,590ha under Article 6 of the Selangor Land Enactment 1897 as Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve for public purposes of ensuring accessible sources of wood.

  • 1908 - Gazetting of the Selangor Forest Enactment (18/1907) and the forest reserve falls under the State Forestry Department.

  • 1929 - a tree nursery and a Forestry Department training centre was established in the north of the forest reserve.

  • 1954 - Forest Reserve Research Institute (FRIM) set up a number of long-term research plots to study the dynamics of tropical rainforest ecology.

  • 1983 - About half of the original forest reserve had been excised for agriculture.

  • 1988 - Entire eastern edge of the area was cleared for the North-South Highway.

  • 1992 - 1,600ha was given to PKNS for the Kota Damansara township (originally named Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh Jaya).

  • 1993 - Kota Damansara township launched with the theme ‘Living in Harmony with the Environment’.

  • Dec 21, 1993 - State Government excised 402.6ha from the forest reserve for a botanical garden Feb 3, 1994 - State Government reserved the area under Sect 62 (1) of the National Land Code for the public purpose of a botanical garden to be maintained by the state government.

  • 2000 - Federal Government allocated RM125mil to the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (Mardi) for the National Botanical Garden under the Eighth Malaysian Plan (2001-2005).

  • 2002 - Federal Government decided to shift the National Botanical Garden to Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve in Shah Alam.

  • May 2002 - Development proposals for the parcel published. Residents protested.

  • March 2004 - State Government promised that the land would become Taman Botani.

  • June 17, 2004 - State Government published its intention to revoke 58.83ha of the Taman Botani to the east of the highway for a Muslim cemetery.

  • 2006 - State Government agreed to lease the Bukit Cahaya Sri Alam (Bukit Cherakah) to the Federal Government for 60 years.

  • March 2006 - Friends of Kota Damansara produced guidebook entitled “A Step Beyond the City”.

  • Dec 2006 - The state exco said the area to the east of the highway was too rocky and unsuitable for a cemetery and approved 50acre of Taman Botani for the purpose.

  • March 2007 - Earthworks on the cemetery starts.

  • Oct 2007 - Federal cabinet approved RM141mil for the site to be developed over a five-year period.

  • Dec 2007 - the Draft Petaling Jaya Local Plan 2020 was published, zoning more of Taman Botani for residential development with a small area for recreation.


*****.*****

Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."

(Muttafaq 'alaih)

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