Development, logging and agriculture have already eaten away at vast tracts of forest. What is left is fragmented and of limited use to wild animals. This is why it is important to connect the tracts of good-quality forest that we do have.
A NATION resplendent with the grandeur of its wilderness – that is how we want the world to see us. Natural heritage forms an inextricable part of the Malaysian national identity, a fact evident in the tigers flanking the shield in the Malaysian coat of arms, and the rainforest so prominently featured in the Tourism Ministry’s “Malaysia Truly Asia” promotion campaign.
But with a growing population of 29 million exerting pressure for land to be developed into houses, commercial centres, farms and roads, the question of whether or not this image remains an identity backed by substance hinges on how we choose to expand.
Some tracts of forest are more important than others when it comes to strategic conservation, which is what prompted the formulation of the Central Forest Spine Master Plan, a policy under the National Physical Plan. It is to guide town planning efforts, and lists out key areas of forest which need to be protected. Under it, 20 primary and 17 secondary linkages act as forest corridors, creating a crucial link along the backbone of Peninsular Malaysia’s Environmentally Sensitive Area Network.
Development, logging and agriculture have already eaten away at vast tracts of forest, and much of what is left outside of this network is fragmented and of limited use to animals such as tigers, which require large territories to find sufficient food. This is why it is important to link up the tracts of good-quality forest that we do have.
So far, there have been some positive developments in favour of the Central Forest Spine (CFS) Master Plan, the latest being the Terengganu government’s announcement that it will freeze all development projects along an area that falls under Primary Linkage 7, a stretch of forest which connects Malaysia’s largest national park, Taman Negara, to other forests in the state. The decision was announced by state Industry, Trade and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Toh Chin Yaw after researchers presented their findings from months of survey.
The research group Rimba recorded 40 mammal species in the area, 15 of which are listed as “endangered” globally. These include the Asian elephant, the Malayan tiger, the Sunda pangolin, the white-handed gibbon and the Asian tapir.
There is hope that action will be taken for another important wildlife corridor that is similarly rich in fauna. Work by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) at the site known as Primary Linkage 2 points to the need to protect a stretch of state-land forest. Currently vulnerable to development, this area forms an important connection between the Belum and Temengor forests in Perak.
Read more: http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2012/12/11/lifefocus/12303096&sec=lifefocus