PETALING JAYA: An independent forest monitoring watchdog has expressed shock that forest reserve land is being openly advertised for sale online every week.
While it did not say if there have been actual sales conducted online to date, Rimba Disclosure Project (RDP) said it is surprised the authorities have not acted against such advertisers.
RDP director Adam Farhan told FMT it has found new listings posted online every week in its year-long observation. He also shared several Facebook posts and a post on iProperty.com.
He said RDP has compiled 117 listings, adding that together with 29 other NGOs, it has exposed advertisements involving more than 43,000ha of forest land for sale.
“Time and time again, RDP has been alerting the public to areas of forest reserves which are being advertised for sale,” Adam said. “For example, this month, we have identified a listing of 800 acres, of which the map attached to the listing clearly shows it is the Bukit Naga forest reserve (in Perak).
“Yet, we have not seen any action taken by the relevant authorities. We hope the natural resources, environment and climate change ministry will seriously look into the advertisements.”
In a Twitter post earlier, RDP revealed that 800.8ha of forest land were listed for sale online in January. They are located in Kelantan, Sabah and Perak.
On another matter, RDP revealed that the environment department (DoE) has approved environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports for three out of five forest plantation projects in forest reserves in Kelantan and Pahang.
Adam said the department should no longer be approving EIAs for large-scale agricultural activities at forest reserves.
He said EIAs are supposed to identify key environmental impact and mitigation measures for projects, but the deforestation activity itself “is an environmental impact which is beyond the threshold of acceptability”.
“As deforestation involves the permanent removal of forests, it is an environmental impact which cannot be mitigated.
“Furthermore, all of the EIAs involving deforestation that have been approved recently are for forest plantations. This involves planting monoculture crops such as rubber trees in forest reserves and is simply a greenwashing scheme,” he said.
He called on the natural resources, environment and climate change ministry to instruct the forestry department to end the forest plantation projects immediately, and for DoE to stop approving such projects.