PORT KLANG, May 12 — All state governments have been urged to amend their respective forestry enactments by incorporating public inquiry procedures before degazetting any forest areas as this falls under their jurisdiction.

Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, only Selangor and Perlis have incorporated public inquiry procedures into their forestry laws.

“We have reminded other state governments to make the same amendment to the relevant enactments because we understand that forests are a state matter.

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“If they degazette a forest area, the state government must replace it with a new one...we hope they can comply with the rule,” he told reporters after the Rakan Bumi Initiative for Mangrove Planting Programme 2024 in Mangrove Point, here, today.

Nik Nazmi said until 2020, the country had about 18.05 million hectares of forest area, adding that the Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability Ministry is actively planting more trees under its 100 Million Tree Planting Campaign with support from various parties.

According to him, as of this month, 86.5 million trees of 1,823 species have been planted across the country, and the ministry is targeting to hit the 100 million mark by the end of next year.

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He said they have planted nearly 8,000 mangrove trees involving 3,500 hectares in coastal areas nationwide.

When asked if climate change caused the recent incidents of uprooted large trees in Georgetown, Penang and Kuala Lumpur that killed a man, Nik Nazmi said it was a serious issue and the root cause must be examined ‘holistically’.

“I understand the debate. There are a lot of trees in the local government council area, and they have their guidelines. They usually cooperate with the arborist or the tree expert.

“But we have to look in total and get the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia to be involve to provide the feedback,” he said.

On the alleged illegal extraction of rare earth oxide in the forest reserve in Lipis, Pahang, Nik Nazmi said the ministry is constantly communicating with the state government regarding the issue.

“We are communicating not only with the Pahang government but with all state governments on the guidelines for proper rare earth elements mining, followed by discussions involving Economy Ministry, Investment, Trade and Industry Ministry and Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry,” he said.

Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail has vehemently denied the accusation, saying that the statement by Nik Nazmi in response to a question raised by Ipoh Timur MP Lee Chuan How in Parliament on March 12 was inaccurate because there were no rare earth oxide extraction activities in Lipis. — Bernama