Monoculture, Logging Causing Deforestation, Say Environmentalists

Last update: 29/05/2017

By Aishah Mohamad Afandi

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- With more forest reserves converted to monoculture farming, environmentalists are worried that the trend will not only destroy the forest ecology but also contribute to deforestation.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman said that monoculture farming leads to deforestation as the land could no longer be considered as a forest.

"A forest consists of various types of plants and is of biological diversity. And it functions as a water catchment area. Monoculture farming only produces a single crop or livestock, and that is not what a forest is about,'" he told Bernama.

Citing examples, Meor Razak said Kelantan Forestry Department statistics showed that 31 per cent (199,352ha) of the state's forest reserves had been allocated to Timber Latex Clones rubber trees for logging.

"Deforestation occurs not only through logging but also when the forest is used for farming especially monoculture," said Meor Razak.

Article 74 (2) of the Federal Constitution stipulates that land and forest matters fall under the jurisdiction of the state.

This article gives the state government the ultimate power to set the rules, govern and take care of forest reserves. Federal agencies can only provide advice and technical assistance to the state on land matters.

According to the Auditor General report of 2008, the Kelantan government approved 2,200ha of forest reserves 1,000 metres above sea level for logging even though the affected areas Tanah Tinggi Lojing, Sungai Betis and Sungai Brook were supposed to be gazetted as protected forest reserves.

As for the deforestation in Peninsular Malaysia as a whole, Natural Resources and Environment Ministry statistics showed that the total forested area in 2006 was 5,901,389ha. In 2015, it was 5,784,870ha. This means a decline of 116,519ha in total forested area or a deforestation rate of 2% over 10 years.

No statistics were recorded for Sabah and Sarawak although the state governments said they had always been committed to preserving forest reserves.

Natural Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the allegation of illegal logging especially in Sarawak is "arguable".

He understsood that the Sarawak government's stand on illegal logging remained the same as it was under the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem, who had vowed to combat illegal logging.

The Santubong MP also said that the definition of jungle does not include plantations such as rubber or oil palm estates..

"Planted forest and rehabilitated forest are considered as a jungle but rubber and oil palm plantations are not," he said.