On the 16th of April, Perak NGO Kumpulan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (KUASA) published a short, telling exposé with an image (below) bearing the title “HUTAN SIMPAN KEKAL (HSK) DI NEGERI PERAK YANG TELAH DIMANSUHKAN SEJAK TAHUN 2009 MENGIKUT REKOD NGO ALAM SEKITAR” (Eng: Degazetted Permanent Reserve Forests in Perak since 2009 According to Environmental NGO Records).
We have computed the data in the image into a analysis-friendly format, and incorporated the data points into our Interactive Map in the "PRF Degazettement (NGO Records)" layer under the CFS LANDSCAPE tab.
Permanent Reserve Forests (PRFs) are protected under the weakly-protective National Forestry Act 1984, and are under the jurisdiction of the state forestry department; however, the state government has the power to excise (remove) PRFs by degazetting them (changing their land status). Forested land directly under the state government's purview is termed 'stateland forests' and are usually available for conversion/development. Cutting for timber production in PRFs is permissible ("timber production forest under sustained yield"), and the excision of PRFs from the state warrants replacement with another similarly-sized piece of land ("State Authority to replace land excised from permanent reserved forest") by the state. If true, it is unlikely that the ~23 kha of PRFs excised in Perak have been replaced with a similarly-sized stateland forest, as remote sensing supports Perak Forestry Department's data that there is not enough stateland forest remaining in the state for that purpose (Perak Forestry Department's 2016 annual report shows 19,146.4 ha of stateland forests remaining, p74).
To our knowledge, there has been little if any public notices made for the degazettement of these permanent reserve forests. As we take steps toward increased transparency in the governance of natural resources in Malaysia, we hope that such decisions by state governments in the future will take into consideration the multiple stakeholders that are involved and make due public announcements and/or consultations with the relevant parties. The veracity of this data can be verified with KUASA.
KUASA is a Perak-based NGO that also has a presence in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, and several districts of Pahang.