Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sungai Buloh Forest being cleared despite residents’ protest

By K.W. MAKPhotos by BRIAN MOH and K.W. MAK

Green no more: A portion of the Sungai Buloh Forest which has been haphazardly cleared.

PARTS of the Sungai Buloh Forest have been cleared haphazardly, with a large number of trees felled for an unknown development.

Despite nearby residents protesting the clearing that started on Aug 28 to the Petaling Jaya City
Council (MBPJ), the clearing continued uninterrupted through the weekends from 8am to 5pm.
A site check by StarMetro on Saturday found parts of uprooted trees left all over the forest while larger trees were sawed and the trunks removed.

A Kota Damansara pro tem residents committee from Section 8, 9 and 10 said they met with PJ mayor Mohamad Roslan Sakiman a month ago to seek further clarification on the development of the cemetery.

“At that meeting, it was agreed upon that work on the present cemetery could continue but the remaining forest would remain untouched while the council looked for another suitable plot for a cemetery,” said resident Mallek Rizal Mohsin.

“The mayor agreed to call on the town planning department officials to meet up with us and we have been waiting since then but the never took place. Instead, the forest is being cleared.''
Resident Noor Lelawati Khalid said the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) had found several government research papers on the forest that pointed to the importance of the forest.
Among the documents was the MBPJ Local Draft Plan 2020, which pointed out that the Sungai Buloh Forest was rich in biodiversity and the main water retention area for west PJ.
The report stated that the forest was important to control flood and erosion.

Concerned residents: (From left) Sudirman, Mallek, Nurual Azmi Zainuddin and Noor Lelawati have voiced out their fears over the deforestation to MBPJ.“It is categorised as a sensitive environment area where a large part of the topography is high and with a slope of 25%.
“Any encroachment and development of the area will speed up the process of land erosion and disrupt the hydrological system and air quality of nearby areas like PJU10, PJU5 and Sungai Buloh,” she said, citing the report.

Noor Lelawati said the council’s own report already pointed out the dangers of developing the forest and residents could not understand why the council had not stopped the tree felling.
“Despite calls to stop the project to preserve the forest, the deforestation continues indiscriminately,” said Sudirman Jais, adding that animals have been coming into residential areas in search of food.

“Since the project started, every time it rains, we have a flood of mud water gushing down from the hill into our drains and flooding the road.”
The residents said they were extending an open invitation to Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid to view the destruction and help preserve the precious 100-year-old rainforest that is the last low land forest in Petaling Jaya.

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