The Shah Alam Community Forest (SACF) Society, together with the Environmental Heritage Protectors Association (Peka), urged the Selangor government to gazette the Shah Alam Community Forest as a “community managed” forest reserve, reported Free Malaysia Today.
“The community would work with local government agencies to conserve and manage the forest,” said SACF Society secretary Alicia Teoh at a hiking programme.
“At most forest reserves, people are not allowed in. We would like to propose that, maybe around the perimeter of the forest, there can be hiking trails for people.”
This comes as the forest is located near the Setia Alam residential area. “I believe even people from Klang come here to hike. This is the nearest forest for them,” she noted.
The state owns around 130 acres of the forest land, while Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor (PKNS) owns 270 acres.
Teoh explained that the forest is an important recreational area, with ecological and educational significance.
“Forests are so rare in urban centres. And more forests are getting deforested for development, so they’re getting even more rare.”
As such, it was important for the state government to preserve the forest, said Asmarani Mohd Bidin, a volunteer who participated in the hike.
According to her, forest reserve would not only benefit the existing urban residents but the next generation also.
“If they take all the land, what can we show our kids and grandchildren? They won’t have any nature left,” she added. “We are okay with development, but they can’t develop all of it…We need reserves and parks for recreational purposes. This is very important for the community.”
SACF Society vice president Lai Chong Haur stated that while they could not completely stop development, the residents wanted to engage with developers to explore ways for sustainable development.
“They can build, but try to preserve nature and build around it. It can be done,” he said, while noting that this was already being done in other countries.
Kota Anggerik assemblyman Najwan Halimi, who also joined the hike, said he would meet Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari to discuss the preservation of the forest.
“I have also brought this up at the Selangor state assembly, for the land ownership and development to be reviewed, and the forest preserved…The forest is an attraction not only for the locals but for international hikers as well.”
However, he noted that there are many issues that need to be considered.
“We have to check and see who this land belongs to,” he said. “If you look at the way the community manages the forest, it is very well managed and they have extraordinary commitment…If the state government decides to maintain the forest, I feel the community would be more than willing to help the government conserve it.”
Image source: Free Malaysia Today
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