Letter to Editor: WWF-Malaysia lauds Perak’s commitment to preserve Belum-Temengor wildlife corridor
We welcome the State Government’s initiative to gazette 18,866 ha of the main stretch of forest along the Gerik-Jeli highway connecting Royal Belum State Park and Temengor Forest Reserve as part of this Forest Reserve. This is an important measure to reduce fragmentation between forest complexes within the Central Forest Spine (CFS), in line with the National Physical Plan (NPP) and the CFS Masterplan. The CFS consists of four major forest complexes in Peninsular Malaysia, identified in the NPP as the backbone of the Environmentally Sensitive Area network. Both the NPP and the CFS Masterplan have identified the area currently gazetted as Amanjaya Forest Reserve as a Primary Linkage, an important ecological link between Royal Belum State Park and Temengor Forest Reserve.
Having conducted intensive ecological studies on tigers and their prey species in Royal Belum State Park, Temengor Forest Reserve, as well as within what is now known as Amanjaya Forest Reserve, WWF-Malaysia can attest to the importance of this corridor for the conservation of the larger Belum-Temengor Forest Complex. Indeed, gazetting the state land along the Gerik-Jeli highway as a permanent forest reserve was one of the main conservation measures recommended by WWF-Malaysia to the state government agencies as a result of this study. Almost all of the large mammal species that occur in Malaysia have been recorded utilising the forest along the Gerik-Jeli highway, including elephant, tapir, tiger, gaur and sambar deer. Hence, it is imperative that the natural habitat is maintained so that tigers and other animals can still utilise the corridor to disperse or move between Royal Belum State Park and the rest of the Main Range. Gazetting this area as a permanent forest reserve and subsequently ensuring the maintenance of natural forest cover will also ensure the functionality of the proposed wildlife viaduct which is due to be constructed across this highway (“RM60m to build viaducts for tiger crossings” - New Straits Times, 21 February 2012).
The gazettement of Amanjaya Forest Reserve and the planned construction of wildlife viaducts are positive initiatives toward conservation of this critical ecological corridor. It is a major first step toward the long-term conservation of the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, which has been identified as a priority area for tigers under the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan for Malaysia.
It is also our hope that critical water catchment areas and important corridor blocks identified to be frequently utilised by key large mammal species will be further reclassified as Water Catchment Forest and Forest Sanctuary for Wildlife respectively under Section 10 of the National Forestry Act. This is to ensure that these sensitive areas are not degraded through logging or any other activities. Apart from this, areas along the highway which have been cleared or degraded need to be restored and rehabilitated with native forest species to maintain habitat integrity.
While the gazettement of the corridor as a forest reserve will reduce the threat of habitat destruction, that alone will not ensure the long-term viability of wildlife in the area. Poaching, facilitated by easy access into Belum-Temengor via the Gerik-Jeli highway, is also a major threat which needs immediate attention. Hence, there is a clear need for patrolling and enforcement to be stepped up in the area. All these issues need to be addressed in a holistic manner, with active participation and technical support from all relevant government and conservation stakeholders working in this landscape.
WWF-Malaysia looks forward to further conservation initiatives from the Perak State Government as well as other state governments, which are in line with the NPP and the CFS Masterplan as these will go a long way toward conserving our priceless biodiversity and ecological services for future generations.
Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma
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WWF-Malaysia (World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia) was established in Malaysia in 1972. It currently runs more than 90 projects, covering a diverse range of environmental conservation and protection work, from saving endangered species such as tigers and turtles, to protecting our highland forests, rivers and seas. The national conservation organization also undertakes environmental education and advocacy work to achieve its conservation goals. Its mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the nation’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. For latest news and media resources, visit http://www.wwf.org.my/media_and_information/media_centre/
For more information:
Yeoh Lin Lin, Head of Communications, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603-78033772 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org