BY Roznah Abdul Jabbar
Our national forests and parks should be preserved and protected for future generations to enjoy. These precious places are part of our inheritance as Malaysians and should not be for sale.
With national forests including those in Kuala Lumpur under assault, the rakyat certainly need an environmentally sane Malaysia starting with its capital city.
These pristine forests are the legacy of every Malaysian but it seems that the authorities are putting these national treasures at risk, destroying them in the name of development instead of preserving them.
It’s so sad that trees are felled and forests cleared to make way for development, after which new trees are planted so developers can utilise sound bites such as “green” and “sustainable”. Wouldn’t it be more logical if they preserve the original trees and develop around them?
According to a research paper, Population Change and Environmental Issues in Malaysia, the state of the environment has been altered from a pristine nature to a modified human landscape in just one century.
Benefits of the natural ecosystem are compromised as a consequence of rapid development.
It said indicators of unsustainability include worsening floods, escalating per capita carbon dioxide emission, unchecked land use conversion to agricultural and urban landscapes, poor river water quality and inefficient waste management.
Although denied by the authorities, our green areas, especially in the cities, are disappearing fast due to development.
Recently, Real Spaces reported the development of land surrounding Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve in KL and the fact that the nature park has shrunk from its original 43.2 acres to the current 23 acres due to construction and logging.
According to the executive director (planning) of KL City Hall (DBKL), Datuk Mohd Najib Mohd, the forest, now called the KL Forest Eco Park, has not been “touched” as it is under the Forestry Department’s purview and development in that area is not allowed.
Najib said there are no developments planned in that area and never will be.
However, it is noted that the tropical forest in the heart of KL is a dying forest due to random logging and property development around it.
Recently, a 7.4-acre plot comprising 16 contiguous lots located adjacent to KL Tower was put up for sale at an estimated RM2,000psf to RM3,000psf.
The freehold commercial land, on sale by tender, is situated between Jalan Menara and Jalan Raja Chulan and borders the forest reserve. The parcel is said to have a plot ratio of 1:7, which allows the land to be developed up to seven times its land area.
Also slated for development are 1.69 acres along Jalan Raja Chulan, a land joint-venture with Telekom Malaysia Bhd, into a high-rise mixed development over six years.
Deputy Minister of Ministry of Federal Territories Datuk Loga Bala Mohan said some of these developments are necessary and there are specific needs for development in the area.
On the development next to Rimba Kiara Park, Loga said it is to accommodate the needs for “other things” in the city such as affordable housing and squatter resettlement, adding the government does not favour land acquisition in these areas but that will happen when necessary.
The said project, which will comprise eight blocks of serviced apartments of between 42 and 54 storeys, including an eight-storey parking podium, is opposed by many people especially those who frequent the park.
The project, apart from damaging the park, is also expected to raise the neighbourhood’s per-acre density from 74 people per acre to possibly 979 people, up 13 times.
Meanwhile, amid protests over developments in the Klang Valley’s green spaces, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak launched the RM650 million Taman Tugu project in KL.
The proposed urban rainforest park, touted to be KL’s own “Central Park”, was not well received. The rakyat questioned the high cost in this uncertain economic climate. They were also concerned that the project is within a natural rainforest and that the park may not remain a public interest when the project is completed.
The annual haze season reminds us that more trees are necessary, not less. While the government plans to spend a whopping sum to “build” a park, environmentalists and sustainability experts opine that it will be easier to preserve what we already have.
According to Badan Warisan Malaysia, the KL Forest Eco Park, which could be our own “Central Park”, is in dire need of preservation.
Our forests are shrinking year by year compared to New York City’s Central Park , an urban park which grew from its original 773 acres when it was established in 1857 to its current 843 acres.
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