The how and why behind Selangor’s plan to degazette Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve

Last year, the Selangor State Forestry Department (JPNS) announced the state government’s intention to degazzette the majority of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR), causing an uproar in the country.

(MMO) – The KLNFR — made up of reportedly 8,000-year-old forests — was gazetted as a permanent forest reserve (HSK) covering 7,246.96 hectares back in 1927. Today, only 957.6 hectares of the green lung is left, with 931.17 hectares of it endangered by the state government’s degazettement proposal.

While the Selangor state government has not made clear what it plans to develop in place of the forest, it maintains that the degazettement will work in the benefit of the state.

However, politicians such as Kuala Langat MP Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar, environmentalists, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the some 2,000 Orang Asli native to the area beg to differ.

Selangor state government says it’s here to help

To explain the government’s reasons for the degazettement, in February last year, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said that forest fires had “degraded” 40 per cent of the KLNFR, and the forest now poses as a fire hazard to nearby areas.

Amirudin — a PKR politician who came to power under the Pakatan Harapan government — also said that in accordance with Section 12 of the National Forestry Act 1984, the state government will be replacing the tracts of land earmarked for degazettement.

Compared to the 930.93 hectares the state government wants to degazette, the combined area of the “replacement” reserves will purportedly span approximately 1,177 hectares.

This comprised two tracks of land within the Sabak Bernam district — in Sungai Panjang (308.62 hectares) and Sungai Panjang 2 (606.88 hectares) — and one within the Kuala Selangor district, in Sungai Kuala Selangor (261.81 hectares).

Amirudin also said that the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) plans to build a business park — named Selangor Business Capital — in the vicinity, but failed to clarify if it would be located within the degazettement area or outside it.

The same day, on February 21, 2020, PKNS would issue a statement denying claims that the Selangor Business Capital will be built on reserve land and “violating the rights of the Orang Asli in that area”.

Amirudin had also mentioned that the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) would be cutting through a small portion — some 2 per cent — of the proposed degazettement area.

However, the ECRL project’s plans have changed under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, and the train is now set to go through the northern parts of Selangor, passing by Gombak instead.

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