Timber Latex Clone (TLC) Plantations: Friction in Kelantan
In a previous post, the degazettement of permanent reserve forests (PRFs) in Terengganu was discussed. It's time for some TLC (hint: not 'tender, loving, care').
What are TLC plantations?
In Malaysia, Timber Latex Clone (TLC, basically, selectively-bred rubber plantations) plantations are considered forest plantations and are planted within Permanent Reserve Forests (PRFs - capitalized for emphasis) - that's right, government statistics showing 4.9 million hectares of PRFs include 402,000 ha of production forests (JPSM 2016 report, p99), of which an undetermined proportion are TLC plantations. In forest reserves. Yup.
We draw your attention to the map below, extracted from Kelantan Forestry Department's page.
The map above shows Taman Negara Kelantan (dark green), the PRFs of Kelantan (light green), and TLC plantations within the PRFs of Kelantan (purple). The extent of these plantations have been manually-extracted and digitized (and will soon be incorporated as a layer on our Interactive Map). A coarse estimate based on the map above tells us that out of the reported 635,437 ha of PRF in Kelantan, about 240,000 ha or close to 40% are actually TLC plantations that still bear the PRF land status. These conversions seem aligned to the reports on Kelantan Forestry Department's own page on TLCs and a letter published in The Star (2013); the latter source claimed that 439,489 ha of PRFs were to be converted to TLC plantations in Peninsular Malaysia alone.
Before we cry foul, let us acknowledge that outside of Perlis, Kelantan had the lowest GDP of all Malaysian states for 2012-2016 (according to DOSM), and that TLC plantations may represent a significant source of income for the state's survival. Also, compared to outright PRF-degazettement which entails clear-cutting/development/forest conversion, maintaining the PRF land status for these TLC plantations actually makes it legally-straightforward should the Kelantan Forestry Department (and State Government) someday choose to restore forest landscapes in these plantations - it ain't pretty, but every cloud has a silver lining. Or not.