300 activists march to Parliament to demand stronger forestry protection laws

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The march from Padang Merbok to Parliament, initiated by the Organisation for the Preservation of Natural Heritage (Peka), is taking place this morning, the last day of the current parliamentary sitting. Among those participating was Aliran’s Simon Tan, who recorded the above video.

They plan to deliver a memo to MPs in which they are calling for a constitutional amendment and legal reforms to enable greater federal control and more effective protection of Malaysian forests in the various states.

Photograph: Simon Tan

Over the last few decades, large swathes of primary forests have been cleared for logging, plantations and illegal farming. Companies have also encroached into indigenous people’s native customary land, displacing many communities.

An online petition started by Peka has so far collection over 175,000 signatures. The petition calls on the government to:

  • ban all logging activities in Malaysia – the group suggests a moratorium on all logging activities, including land-clearing, throughout Malaysia for at least 10 years to allow our forests to recover.
  • reuse existing non-forest land in Malaysia – Instead of clearing forested land, reuse existing non-forest lands for plantations, agriculture, and other development.
  • re-gazette all existing forest reserves as national or state parks – Trees in existing forest reserves are not protected but reserved to be used at a later time. We need to re-gazette forest reserves as state and national parks that are protected by law so that the biodiversity and wildlife are conserved.
  • Reform laws associated with the exploitation of natural resources and the protection of the natural environment – Existing laws that govern the use of natural resources and outline protections for the natural environment are often inadequate or have loopholes that are easily exploited.
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