THE Friends of Kota Damansara (FOKD), an environmental NGO, can breathe a sigh of relief now that the Kota Damansara forest has been gazetted as a permanent forest reserve.
“We are relieved because we have been fighting for the forest to be gazetted for the past eight years,” said FOKD co-chairman Jeffrey Phang.
Phang said Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and Tourism, Consumer and Environment Committee chairman Elizabeth Wong had been instrumental in the process to get the 321.7ha of forest re-gazetted.
Natural habitat: The swamp is a haven for anglers who go there on weekends to fish.
Originally known as the Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve, the forest was first gazetted in 1898 with an area of 6,590ha.
“This is the start of something bigger.
“We have many plans and activities lined up and we want to make the Kota Damansara Community Forest a platform for nation-building,” said Phang.
He said the FOKD was also making efforts to link up with other NGOs and to recruit more volunteers who are passionate about environmental and social issues.
In view of the gazettement, the group is also planning a two-day Mega Earth Day 2010 celebrations on April 24 and 25 with activities like fun fairs, kayaking and nature walks.
Kota Damansara assemblyman Dr Nasir Hashim said it was a big victory for Kota Damansara people now that the forest had been gazetted.
“It’s one of the last remaining forests in Petaling Jaya. Most of the other parts of the city have been heavily developed and are now congested.
“Now the people can enjoy nature, go for walks and picnic in the forest,” said Dr Nasir.
However, the FOKD is not about to rest on its laurels as Phang believes that there are currently development projects going on in areas that were included in the gazette.
He said some completed projects also fell within the boundary of the forest reserve.
The FOKD had recently hit out at the proposed development of a 120-unit housing estate near the SMK Section 10 Kota Damansara.
KOTA DAMANSARA FOREST CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS:
Jan 14, 1898 – the colonial government gazetted an area of 6,590ha under Article 6 of the Selangor Land Enactment 1897 as Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve for public purposes of ensuring accessible sources of wood.
1908 – Gazetting of the Selangor Forest Enactment (18/1907) and the forest reserve falls under State Forestry Department.
1929 – a tree nursery and a Forestry Department training centre was established in the north of the forest reserve.
1954 – Forest Reserve Research Institute (FRIM) set up a number of long-term research plots to study the dynamics of tropical rainforest ecology.
1983 – About half of the original reserve had been excised for agriculture.
1988 – Entire eastern edge of the area was cleared for the North-South Highway.
1992 – 1,600ha was given to PKNS for Kota Damansara township (originally named Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh Jaya).
1993 – Kota Damansara township launched with theme Living in Harmony with the Environment.
21 Dec, 1993 – State Government excised 402.6ha from the forest reserve for botanical garden
3 Feb, 1994 – State Government reserved the area under Sect 62 (1) of the National Land Code for the public purpose of a Botanical Garden to be maintained by the state government.
2000 – Federal Government allocated RM125mil to the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (Mardi) for the National Botanical Garden under the Eighth Malaysian Plan (2001-2005).
2002 – Federal Government decided to shift the National Botanical Garden to Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve in Shah Alam.
May 2002 – development proposals for the parcel was published. Residents protested.
March 2004 – State Government promised that the land would be left as Taman Botani
17 June, 2004 – State Government published its intention to revoke 58.83ha of the Taman Botani to the east of the highway for a Muslim cemetery.
2006 – State Government agreed to lease the Bukit Cahaya Sri Alam (Bukit Cherakah) to the Federal Government for 60 years.
March 2006 – Friends of Kota Damansara (FOKD) produced guidebook entitled “A Step Beyond the City”.
Dec 2006 – State Exco member said the area to the east of highway too rocky and unsuitable for cemetery and approved 50acre of Taman Botani for the purpose.
March 2007 – Earthworks on the cemetery starts.
Oct 2007 – Federal Cabinet approved RM141mil for the site to be developed over five-year period.
Dec 2007 – the Draft Petaling Jaya Local Plan 2020 was published, zoning more of Taman Botani for residential development with a small area for recreation (inclusive of the cemetery area).