LAND can be used for forest reserves, forests, housing, plantation, light industry, heavy industry and many other needs. The conversion from one use to another must be done accordingly and there is a need to conduct a Detailed Environment Impact Assessment (DEIA).

Development of any sort covering more than 50ha or involving a class 3 hill slope needs a study.

This, however, is not applicable any more because any kind of land use change may have an impact not only on the environment but humans as well.

In a dialogue with the Department of Environment (DOE) recently, the land use conversion issue was discussed in detail. It was put forward that land use conversion of any area must go through a proper environment impact study. If such a conversion is near an  environmentally sensitive area, it must go through the full DEIA process.

The local authorities must also gazette land use appropriately and they should complement the DOE’s move. There are many cases of housing lands encroaching closer to gazetted heavy industry areas. In some cases, the houses are just a few hundred metres from the factories or worst right at the back yard.

With reducing natural forest cover and increasing development, wise decisions must be made for every project approved. Malaysia being one of the 13 most bio-diversified countries in the world must have proper and functional laws to protect the environment.

There are incidences recorded by Fomca of forest near water catchment areas being logged.

Disturbances to forest reserves and water catchment boundaries will definitely affect the source of water. The same goes to land use.

Change in land use will impact not only the environment but humans as well.

We urge the local authorities, state governments and federal government to take note of the seriousness of losing natural forest cover.

S. Piarapakaran