Tag Archives: development

Deforestation project in Pahang exacerbates Orang Asli land rights struggle

A plantation project in Pahang wants to clear almost 85km2 of primary forest. The Orang Asli who live on the site have been protesting the logging since 2019. But there are two letters signed by the illiterate villagers which purportedly show their support for the logging. What happened?

A version of this story first appeared on Southeast Asia Globe on 21 June 2021.

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OMAR RANI is an Orang Asli who lives in the village of Kampung Berengoi in Pahang. Omar and his fellow Orang Asli villagers are illiterate – or as they put it: “We haven’t gone to school”.

Last year, they were asked to sign letters to receive free houses from private company YP Olio Sdn Bhd. Though unable to read a word, Omar and the villagers signed them; they trusted the government officers who accompanied the company’s representatives.

(Photo: The Orang Asli at Kampung Berengoi and Kampung Mesau gathered to speak out against logging around their homes. Rani (first left), Sani (second left), Omar (seated center), Abdullah (first right). Pic by Aminah A/P Tan Kay Hoe.)

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When Invaders Move In On Batu Caves (And They Have)

From flowering plants to butterflies , invasive species are taking over Batu Caves. This alarming threat to the fragile limestone ecosystem needs addressing.

WE HAD trekked up Batu Caves for about 10 minutes when botanist Dr Ruth Kiew turned to me and asked, “Can you see the difference in the vegetation?”

“Between limestone and non-limestone vegetation, you mean?”

“Yes.”

I scanned the plants before me. This was pre-pandemic times and I had been researching limestone species from lists provided by Kiew.

(Photo: Invasive species threaten plants like the keladi (foreground), discovered only 2 years ago and found only on Batu Caves, says limestone specialist Ruth Kiew. ~ pic by SL Wong)

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Covid Provides Relief for Wildlife – but Not Really

With new lockdowns and closure of international borders, wildlife has been an increasingly common sight in Malaysia’s urban areas. But what does this mean? This commentary was first published on Channel News Asia and is republished here with permission.

[First posted May 27, 2021]

WHO DOESN’T like animal videos? Malaysians certainly do. 

With unending COVID-19 lockdowns, a subset of these have become social media favourites: Wild animals in urban areas.

Such visuals feed into the pandemic mantra of “Look how nature recovers when we humans are out of the picture”. But how true is that?

(Photo: Visuals of cute animals in human environments have been going viral during Covid-19; this one hasn’t but registers on the cute scale ~ Pic by Nuratiqah AR )

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Can Oil Palm Explain The Lower Forest Loss Here?

Last year, tropical forest loss increased worldwide but Malaysia cut down less than it did the previous year, the fourth year it has done so. What explains this good news?

[First posted on 27 April, 12.17pm.]

Last year, the world lost 12% more tropical forest than it did in 2019, according to satellite census by forest monitoring platform Global Forest Watch. Malaysia bucked the global trend: it lost less. 

In fact, Malaysia has trimmed its primary forest losses four years in a row. Losses fell from about 185,000 hectares in 2016 to nearly 73,000 hectares in 2020 (Figure 1).

At the same time, there is a slow down in the expansion of the sector most frequently linked to deforestation – oil palm. Oil palm area in Malaysia contracted in 2020 – the first drop in 44 years.

Could this explain Malaysia’s recent downtrend in primary forest losses? And can we expect forest loss to drop further?

(Photo: Malaysia has been losing less primary forest since 2016. Graph: YH Law)

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Must the Pan Borneo Highway Dissect the Tawai Forest?

[Updated 29 July 2021]

Funds and political support are reinvigorating the Pan Borneo Highway project in Sabah. But is there time to consider ways to mitigate its environmental and socioeconomic impact?

WITH 2,239 kilometres of new roads to be built by 2025, the Pan Borneo Highway is expected to boost connectivity, tourism and trade in and between Sabah and Sarawak.

Parts of the current route, however, would severely impact the environment and local communities, say local NGOs and researchers.

Continue reading Must the Pan Borneo Highway Dissect the Tawai Forest?

Forest Loss: Under Whose Watch?

How much forest loss is too much? And are the drivers of this loss the same as in the past? In Forest Files, Macaranga examines the dynamics and mechanics of forest-use changes in Malaysia. Our four-part In-Depth series focuses on Peninsular Malaysia, where more forests were lost in the last 30 years than in East Malaysia.

In Part 1, we look at how much forest we actually have, forest-use policies, and forestry decision-makers. In Part 2, we consider a key driver of forest loss – excision from permanent reserve forests. Part 3 asks what drives decision-makers and we end with Part 4 on how citizens could influence forest-use.

(Photo: A bird’s eye view of the protected primary hill and lowland rainforest of the Royal Belum State Park, 2003. Pic by SK Chong/Sasyaz Holdings)

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How to Fit a 15-storey Hotel in Fraser’s Hill

Planners are drafting a new plan for Fraser’s Hill, an environmentally sensitive area. How should development proceed there?

FRASER’S Hill will get a new development concept plan soon. The Raub District Council, which oversees development in Fraser’s Hill, Pahang, has appointed town planner Iktisas Planners to come up with the plan. 

The consultant told Macaranga they aim to finish the concept plan in November, and declined to comment more.

The new concept plan adds a new dimension to recent events that have focused discussion on how Fraser’s Hill, an environmentally sensitive area, should be developed.

In particular, some residents and concerned citizens are opposing the building of a hotel there which has been approved by the Council.

(Photo: The iconic clock tower greets visitors to Fraser’s Hill, a destination popular for its cool weather, nature and colonial-style buildings. Pic by : Pashmina Binwani)

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