Fifty-Three Civil Society Organisation demand that the degazettement of the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve be Revoked Immediately

Petaling Jaya, 18 July 2022 – Fifty-three Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have come together to issue a statement initiated by Biodiversity•Environment•Agroecology•Climate Change•Habitats B•E•A•CC•H•, the environmental cluster of the CSO Platform for Reform in Malaysia to urge the Selangor Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari to immediately revoke the degazettement of the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve based on a decision made over 22 years ago by the then Barisan Nasional government.

A gazette notification (Gazette No. 1645) dated 5 May 2022 announced that the state had excised 406.22 hectares from the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve, Shah Alam based on a decision by the Selangor State Executive Council on 20 November 2000. The excision of the said forest reserve was done under Section 11 of Selangor’s National Forestry Act (Adoption) Enactment 1985 (Selangor NFA 1985). According to a recent statement by the Selangor Forestry Department, the exercise was conducted to complete a process that purportedly began in 2000, with the current state government taking an appropriate role in resolving matters delayed for over two decades. Why it took them over two decades remains a mystery.

Furthermore, in excising the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve, the state has also failed to comply with Section 12 of the Selangor NFA 1985, where they should have provided replacement land of the same size as the excised area as a permanent reserved forest.

In addition to this, the Selangor government had amended their forestry enactment in 2011 to provide for mandatory public inquiries prior to any excision of forest reserves. This is provided for under the Selangor Public Inquiry (Selangor) Rules 2014. The current state government under Pakatan Harapan should have held the mandatory public inquiry before the excision, but they clearly did not, making the excision all the more unlawful.

The final decision on the excision of any forest reserve following the public inquiry must be made by the state legislative assembly. This step will allow for all key facts to be revealed. Ultimately, the people’s representatives can debate and decide on the matter publicly.

Bukit Cherakah was created in 1909 and is popular with nature lovers, hikers and tourists. The forest reserve is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including Tapirs, White-Handed Gibbons, and Hornbills, as well as over 450 species of plants. While the steep hills are great for a challenging hike and eco-tourism, it is not appropriate for development which would cause soil erosion and landslides. The increased siltation may also contribute to flash floods downstream, as evidenced by prior flash flood incidents plaguing the country, including the recent Baling flood tragedy and the devastating floods of December 2021.

Taking a leaf from all the recent tragic events and the worsening climate, the state government should do the right thing and revoke this degazettement. The excision does not benefit the general public or the environment, especially when the Selangor state government intends to keep at least 30% of its forest reserves, as stated in the Selangor Structure Plan 2035.

All fifty-three CSOs including B•E•A•CC•H•, which stands for Biodiversity, Environment, Agroecology, Climate Change and Habitats demand that the Selangor state government follows due legal process and revoke the said gazette immediately.

Endorsed by the Following Civil Society Organisations:

1B.E.A.CC.H. (Biodiversity, Environment, Agroecology, Climate Change and Habitat), Environmental Cluster of the CSO Platform for Reform
2A Little Wild
3Agora Society Malaysia
5Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)
6Centre for Independent Journalism 
7Childline Foundation 
8Ekar Lui
9Engage Network
10Engineers without Borders Malaysia
11Environmental Protection Society Malaysia
12Five Arts Centre
13Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK)
14Friends of Klang River Basin
15Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures Sdn Bhd
16G25 Malaysia
17Gerakan Belia Sepunjabi Malaysia (GBSM) 
18Greenpeace Malaysia
19Jaringan Ekologi Dan Iklim (JEDI)
20Justice for Sisters 
21Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY)
22Ladato Si Ministry, Church of Divine Mercy
23Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Selangor Branch
24Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Pahang Branch
25Malaysian Primatological Society
27Penang Forum
28Penang Hills Watch
29Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
30Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (KUASA)
31Persatuan Penduduk Laman Gahal (PELAGA) 
32Persatuan Rimba Komuniti Shah Alam
33Persatuan Sahabat Rimba Bukit Cherakah (Friends of Bukit Cherakah)
34Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor 
35Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala Langat
36Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera Malaysia – GRASS Malaysia 
37Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam
38Pertubuhan Rangkaian Pembangunan Kesinambungan Malaysia (SUSDEN MALAYSIA)
39Rimba Disclosure Project
40Sahabat Alam Malaysia – Friends of the Earth
41SAVE Rivers
42Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
45Taman Melawati Residents Association
46Terabai Kenyalang Heritage Association of Sarawak (TKHAS)
47Treat Every Environment Special Sdn Bhd (TrEES)
48Ulu Permaculture LLP
50Wetlands International 
51Wildlife Research Group (UKM)
52Youths United for Earth 
53Zero Waste Sabah