GEORGE TOWN, Oct 31 — Penang Forum (PF) launched a Penang Hills Watch (PHW) initiative today to monitor hill clearing activities in the state.
Datuk Dr Sharom Ahmat, member of the coalition of Penang-based NGOs, said the initiative will collate all reports and photos of hill clearing in the state from the public.
“It is a citizens-oriented initiative to provide an information platform for keeping watch on activities affecting the hills of Penang,” he said in a press conference at the launch of the initiative.
Sharom said only 7.4 per cent of Penang is forested land and out of that, only six per cent is protected forests.
The six per cent includes one national park and 16 forest reserves in the state.
According to another PF member, Dr Kam Suan Pheng, collating all the information on any hill clearing in the state will provide a comprehensive picture of the scale and extent of such activities.
PHW is an online repository of mapped information on hill clearing activities in the state.
The PHW accepts reports from the public via its Facebook page, website, email and WhatsApp hotline.
PF member Rexy Prakash Chacko said they have already launched the Facebook page and received 112 hill clearing reports, including 86 reports from the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).
The PHW page has four categories of information that include public reports of hill clearing for development and farming activities and official MBPP records on illegal hill clearing activities and approved development projects on gazetted hill land.
The page and instructions on how to submit ground observation reports are available on penangforum.net. The WhatsApp hotline number is 011-51274277, the email is [email protected] and the Facebook page is @PenangHillsWatch.
Rexy said people need to submit photos of the site and its location when reporting any hill clearing works.