Malaysia: Raja Musa Forest Reserve roads to be closed & restoration to begin

All access roads into the Raja Musa Forest Reserve in Batang Berjuntai
in Selangor will be closed by the first quarter of next year to
prevent illegal access to the peat forest. The Raja Musa reserve alone
covers 23,000ha, but 525ha of it have been illegally cleared.
According to Selangor Forestry Department director Dr Yunus Zakaria,
the move is to prevent outsiders from going into the forest to conduct
illegal activities. “At the same time, we will block the drains and
canals in the area to contain the water and raise the water table.

This will help prepare us for next year’s dry season and reduce the
chance of having another forest fire,” he said. He said the department
hoped to restore the ecology of the forest. Yunus said this after a
community tree-planting programme at the forest last Saturday. The
community tree-planting scheme is the first of a rehabilitation
programme developed by the Selangor State Forestry Department and the
Global Environment Centre (GEC). More than 100 volunteers from several
NGOs, including the GEC, Eco Warriors Club and Youth Environment
Foundation, joined the department officers and workers to plant 3,000
mahang saplings (macarang species) on 2ha of the reserve.

The saplings
were provided by the department. Yunus said the mahang tree was chosen
because it was considered a pioneer species in peat forests. “The
mahang tree provides a natural setting for other species of trees to
grow,” he said. The mahang is a fast-growing peat-swamp tree. It can
create forest cover rapidly, prevent encroachment and reduce the risk
of forest fires. According to Yunus, the species took 10 years to
mature but could reach maturity faster with proper care. “We can see
the results within three years, with the trees providing enough cover
for the introduction of other species. “But we have to make sure there
is suitable soil for them to grow,” he said. Yunus said the department
would monitor the forest and make sure its natural ecology was

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