Nik Nazmi: Kelantan ESAs changes impact on Peninsular forest policies

THE Kelantan government’s move to make changes to its development plan involving environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) will have implications for the federal government’s policy to achieve 50% forested area in Peninsular Malaysia in line with the National Physical Plan.

Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC) Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said in a statement today that the federal government disagrees, in principle, with the state’s move to declassify parts of its permanent forest reserve as environmentally non-sensitive areas.

He added that the move to declare the Gua Musang enclave an environmentally non-sensitive area, for example, will affect the status of Kelantan National Park.

“I have sent a letter to the Kelantan Menteri Besar expressing the view of the federal government.

“I hope that the state government will reconsider the proposed changes to the development plan involving the ESAs in Kelantan and work closely with the NRECC to strengthen forest management and development, and maintain existing forest land for the sustainability of the environment.”

Nik Nazmi further added that the removal of ESA classification from forest reserves in Kelantan’s development plans will also affect the Central Forest Spine ecological network and the ecosystem balance in Kelantan.

He also noted the population of the Malayan tiger and other animals in Kelantan, including elephants and tapirs, will also be endangered due to habitat loss, besides increasing human-wildlife conflicts, resulting in crop damage, property destruction, and loss of life.

Uncontrolled deforestation that may follow the declassification could also lead to more severe flood woes, as such activity has already resulted in flash floods in Kelantan for over a decade, according to him.

Therefore, the minister said the existing ESAs in Kelantan should be retained in the state’s Structure Plan, Local Plan and Special Area Plan to ensure the preservation and conservation of biological diversity and the sustainability of the environment.

Furthermore, Nik Nazmi pointed out that the state government, during its state executive council meeting on Oct 21, has decided that permanent forest reserves, except water catchment areas, will no longer be classified as ESAs.

“The declassification is still in the draft stage, and the state’s Department of Town and Country Planning (PLANMalaysia) is in the midst of collecting feedback through its Publicity and Public Engagement Programme from Oct 11 to Nov 11.” – Oct 27, 2023

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