Forty-three CSOs want Eight State Governments to Deliver on Their Commitment to the New Central Forest Spine Master Plan

Petaling Jaya, 7 August 2022 – The State governments in Peninsular Malaysia should demonstrate their commitment to the Central Forest Spine (CFS) Master Plan by ensuring that there is no further clearing of natural forest and restoring degraded areas within the CFS, say a group of 43 civil society organisations (CSOs) rallied by B.E.A.CC.H, the environmental cluster of the CSO Platform for Reform in Malaysia. 

The CFS Master Plan was approved on 20 July 2022 at the 40th National Physical Planning Council (NPPC) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and participated by all the Chief Ministers of states in Peninsular Malaysia. The NPPC approved the master plan to connect eight major forest complexes in Kedah, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. The master plan serves as guidelines for planning and physical development of forests in Peninsular Malaysia and fulfills Malaysia’s pledge to maintain at least 50% of its forest and tree cover at the Rio Earth Summit 1992. 

B.E.A.CC.H, which stands for Biodiversity, Environment, Agroecology, Climate Change and Habitat, said that the master plan has been discussed extensively with the federal government working on getting the states’ buy-in for years, as constitutional laws clearly indicate that all land matters including forest covers lie with the state. 

The Central Forest Spine (CFS) houses critical mountain watersheds and catchment areas that supply water to 90% of the population in Peninsular Malaysia

With the approval of this master plan, all eyes have now turned on the accountable parties, especially the state governments on the execution and implementation of recommendations within the master plan. To demonstrate their commitment, state governments should incorporate the relevant areas into the respective state’s structure and local plans. These plans are gazetted and legally binding.

B.E.A.CC.H. would like to commend the federal government for getting the master plan ready and for gathering feedback and insights including from state governments, universities, non-governmental organisations, corporate companies, environmentalists and scientists. 

The master plan is detailed and includes maps, ecological linkages, and reforestation plans for wildlife corridors and should not be compromised by decisions made by the states which include degazettement exercises. 

A case in point is the clearing of forest within the Gunung Inas Forest Reserve in Kedah, which is located within the CFS, to make way for a rubber timber clone and Musang King durian plantation, which many believe have led to the recent Baling Floods in Kedah that took three lives and affected some 1,500 villagers. 

The CFS plays an important role in maintaining critical ecosystem services. It provides climate regulation, soil protection, and maintenance of critical water catchment areas that supply water for 90% of the population in Peninsular Malaysia.  The CFS is also home to a wide diversity of flora and fauna, including the endangered Malayan tiger, Asian elephant, Malayan sun bear and Malayan tapir. 

To ensure that states comply with the plans, the CSOs urge the federal government to utilise incentives and penalties to compel the state governments to comply with the CFS Master Plan. Incentives include allocations through the Ecological Fiscal Transfer (EFT) mechanism disseminated through the Ministry of Finance on the recommendation of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, as well as development funds disbursed via various ministries. States that contravene the CFS Master Plan should be denied the relevant funds, while states that uphold it could be provided with additional financial incentives to acknowledge for their efforts. 

The only way the CFS Master Plan would be a success in meeting the nation’s commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is for all parties to be cognisant of their respective roles in protecting Malaysia’s natural resources. 

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
2Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES)
3Agora Society Malaysia
5All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
6Alliance Of River Three
7Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)
8Association of Women Lawyers 
9Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
10Environmental Protection Society Malaysia 
11Persatuan Kebajikan Sokongan Keluarga Selangor & KL (Family Frontiers)
12Free Tree Society Kuala Lumpur
13G25 Malaysia
14Gerakan Belia Se-Punjabi Malaysia
15Jaringan Ekologi dan Iklim (JEDI)
16Justice for Sisters
17MNS Selangor Branch
18Monsoon Malaysia (MM)
19Nomad Adventure Sdn Bhd
20North South Initiative 
21Our Journey
23Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
25Persatuan Pengamatan Air Pulau Pinang
26Persatuan Sahabat Rimba Bukit Cherakah 
27Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor 
28Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala langat 
29Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera Malaysia  (GRASS Malaysia)
30Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam
31Sahabat Alam Malaysia
32Sahabat Alam Sik
33Save Malaysia Stop Lynas 
34SAVE Rivers
35Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
37Stateless Family Support Group
38Sisters in Islam (SIS)
39Sustainable Development Network Malaysia (SUSDEN)
40Taman Melawati Residents Association
41Terabai Kenyalang Heritage Association of Sarawak (TKHAS)
42Wetlands International