IPOH, April 15 — The future of the country’s second national geopark — Kinta Valley geopark — is in doubt following claims that the forest farm development project at the Kledang Saiong and Bukit Kiara Forest Reserves is located within its confines.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman said that he had confirmed the claim after conducting a map check.
“Hence, the Perak state government must reconsider its decision to award the project,” he told Malay Mail.
Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah declared the geopark last October.
The Kinta Valley geopark is the second national geopark after the Langkawi’s Unesco Global Geopark in Kedah.
It covers an area of 1,952km and encompasses two districts in Perak: The Kinta and Kampar districts.
Meor Razak said a geopark is defined as an area containing one or more sites of particular geological importance, which is intended to conserve the geological heritage and promote public awareness of it.
“It should not be disturbed as it could affect its status,” he said, adding that anything endemic to the park should be left untouched.
“The forest in the park is original forest contrary to claims by the state government that it was an unproductive forest,” he said, adding that this was the result of poor enforcement.
He said the purpose of declaring the area as a geopark was to offer better protection to the forest within.
“It is meaningless to have the geopark status if the forest farm project is allowed to go on,” he added.
Malay Mail had previously reported Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu as saying that the company which had applied for the forest farming development had been screened by the Forestry Department.
Ahmad Faizal said the company would be cooperating with MTIB to develop the 400ha of land, which was identified as secondary forest.
MTIB chairman Wong Tack then joined the fray when he said the approval was given by the Perak state government and not by MTIB nor its subsidiary Forest Plantation Development Sdn Bhd (FFDSB).
The controversy erupted when DAP’s Kampar MP Thomas Su lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over the state government’s decision to award the concession to the then five-month-old company which initially had a paid-up capital of just RM2 that was formed after the 14th general election.
The company now has RM500,000 paid-up capital.
Malay Mail has reached out to the state Tourism, Arts and Culture Committee chairman Tan Kar Hing for his response.