Fires In Raja Musa Forest Reserve destroy Rehabilitation Effort

Petaling Jaya, 13th March 2014: A fire started by land owners just outside the boundary of a rehabilitation area in Raja Musa Forest Reserve is now burning inside the peat swamp forest reserve. The fire was spotted near Parit 6, Bestari Jaya at 3.20 pm yesterday (Tuesday 11th March) and it quickly blew out of control, entering the forest reserve and destroying years of rehabilitation work which started in December 2008. 

With not a drop of rain recorded in the past four weeks, the peat soil is extremely dry and the water level is at 70 cm below ground. Aided by and strong winds that constantly change directions, the fire has spread to 500 hectares of the forest reserve, an area 4 kilometers long and 800m wide.     

Currently, massive fire-fighting efforts are underway, led by the Fire and Rescue Department (BOMBA). The effort is assisted by the Selangor Forestry Department, Kuala Selangor District Office, Department of Drainage and Irrigation, Public Works Department, Department of Civil Defence, Global Environment Centre and the local community, especially members of the North Selangor Friends of the Peat Swamp Forest group. Other than ground suppression, helicopters are also being used for water bombing to stop the fires.
“We much regret the irresponsible acts of the public who started open burning in dry weather despite the ban by DOE. 200 hectares of recovering forest, from Parit 5 to 7 is completely destroyed”, said GEC Director, Mr Faizal Parish.
The affected area is a rehabilitation zone that is part of the *ASEAN Peatland Forests Project (APFP) and SEApeat projects. The forest reserve is managed by Selangor Forestry Department and the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia while rehabilitation efforts are coordinated by Global Environment Centre (GEC).  Since December 2008, RM2.4 million has been spent on rehabilitating the degraded forest reserve with funds from corporate sponsors and several project funds. In addition, much effort was put in by thousands of volunteers who came from far and wide to help in the rehabilitation by planting trees and constructing canal blocks.
Members of the public are reminded not to commit open burning in the current hot and dry conditions. Those who come across wildfires should immediately call 999 for the Fire & Rescue Department or the Department of Environment hotline at 1-800-88-2727.


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