Fate of Malaysian forests stripped of protection points to conservation stakes

Fate of Malaysian forests stripped of protection points to conservation stakes

Before the clearing and excavators and bulldozers, before plans to build a gold mine and oil palm plantations, the Jemaluang and Tenggaroh forest reserves in Johor, Malaysia, were wildlife-rich jungles by the sea. Elephants, tigers and sun bears roamed the rainforests’ dimly lit interiors. Critically endangered tropical trees flourished by the seashore. But in 2014, both reserves were struck from Johor’s list of permanent forest reserves, with parts of the land taken into private ownership. Seven years later, a fifth of the more than 17,000 excised hectares (42,000 acres) has been cleared, Malaysian environmental news site Macaranga reported. Vast tracts of rainforest are being razed to the ground by extractive companies, which are reportedly profiting off timber sales while preparing to grow lucrative oil palm. All of this is happening on land owned by the sultan of Johor, the head of the state, according to Macaranga, which has raised questions about the effectiveness of a nationwide conservation initiative the two reserves had been part of. Malayan tigers (Panthera tigris), which are critically endangered with less than 300 individuals left in the wild, roam the Jemaluang and Tenggaroh forests. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay A largely toothless plan Before they were degazetted, the Jemaluang and Tenggaroh reserves had been part of the Central Forest Spine (CFS) Master Plan, a federal government-driven project aimed at forming an unbroken link of forests across Peninsular Malaysia. First unveiled a decade ago, the CFS plan is now under review. An additional Improving Connectivity in the…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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