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January 12, 2011

Many speak up to save South Peat Swamp Forest

By CHRISTINA LOW
christinalow@thestar.com.my

THE Kuala Langat South Peat Swamp Forest issue is heating up with various parties hitting out at the state government for its non-action on the matter.

Petaling Jaya Utara federal development coordinator Datuk Dr Wong Sai Hou said instead of protecting swamp forest to fight climate change, the state government was destroying it by planning to utilise the land for agriculture.

Dr Wong said they were not only destroying the natural habitat of the hundreds of animals, insects and trees but also wiping out the entire jungle by turning it into an oil palm plantation.


Hot topic: The lead story that appeared on StarMetro yesterday.

Wong, who enjoys jungle-trekking during his free time, said protecting the peat swamps would benefit the future generation.

“By going ahead with the proposed plan, they are not keeping to their election promise of conserving the environment,” he said.

He also questioned if Selangor Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment committee chairman Elizabeth Wong knew about it and why she had not given her views on the matter.

“What is the point of come up with different ways to save the environment like planting tress and not using plastic bags on certain days and at the same time take away the forest reserve? ” he asked.

The internet is also rife with activities with Facebook and Twitter users taking turns slamming rhe move.

Several environmental groups such as Eco Warriors Malaysia (ECM) and the Malaysian Youth Climate Justice Network (MYCJN) have even started a public group page to save the forest.

On its page, the ECM, which has more than 3,700 members, started a signature campaign at Mid Valley Megamall just before Christmas to save the forest.

On Dec 30, MYCJN conducted a one-day phone-in campaign which they claimed was successful.

MYCJN urged the public to call the mentri besar’s office from 10am to 3pm to speak or to his personal assistant on the issue.

Not missing out of the action is Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president Associate Prof Dr Maketab Mohamed who urged his members to support to MNS Selangor’s campaign as well as make phone calls to Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim or leave messages on his twitter account at @Khalid_Ibrahim

On MNS’ website, Maketab said they were still working with the Selangor government, as they were the coordinator for the inventory study for the area with Selangor Forestry, Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) and FRIM.

While on Loyarburok.com, the online journal writers also wrote about their experience at the site which they visited on Dec 26.

The writers noted that within two hours in the reserve, they were able to see a range of wildlife from birds to insects.

“It is a friendly reminder there are still wildlife in the reserve and a hasty conversion to agriculture will lead to the extinction of many species,” said the writers on the site.

Environmentalist Datuk Dr Mikaail Kavanagh Abdullah said in his email that peat swamps were able to store a lot more carbon than other types of forest in the decaying vegetation that builds up as peat.

“Unlike dry land forests, peat land continuously accumulate and store carbon. Therefore, is the proposal compatible with Malaysia’s commitment to reduce its release of carbon gases into the atmosphere as part of the global effort to combat climate change?” Mikaail asked.

Mikaail, who was formerly WWF-Malaysia chief executive officer, said Malaysia’s palm oil industry had been working hard to show the world that it was sustainable and produced palm oil in a way that was environmentally responsible.

 

 

  
 
 
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