Monday, 16 July 2012

Letter to the Editor: Retain Bukit Kiara as a Green Lung


While concerned citizens and civil society groups are heartened by the large turnout at the "Save Bukit Kiara" walk to show solidarity in the matter of the construction work taking place within Bukit Kiara (The Star, July 15), we are disconcerted by the Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung's somewhat contradictory explanation that the construction and clearing work was for the purpose of protecting the park from illegal encroachment and to develop the park as a big-scale public park.

It must be pointed out that the construction of the 3.5m-high security fence by the National Landscape Department entailed the felling and destruction of thousands of mature indigenous forest trees. Further, the fence restricts the movement of wildlife. The construction of a road in order to put up a fence to protect the park from "illegal encroachment" also has the ironic effect of opening up access to the forest to vandals, poachers and those with ill-intentions, as can be seen from the increase of litter ever since the commencement of the construction work.

Nature lovers and residents of the areas surrounding Bukit Kiara have already indicated their strong preference for keeping Bukit Kiara pristine, instead of fashioned into a giant playground planted over with non-indigenous flora. The flora of Bukit Kiara is part of our natural heritage that no amount of secondary replanting and landscaping by even the most well-meaning of developers and landscape architects can replace.

Green lungs such as Bukit Kiara provide valuable ecological services, such as maintaining freshwater quality, hydrological integrity, flood mitigation and carbon storage and sequestration. They provide the community with aesthetic pleasure as well as opportunities for contact with the natural environment.

The loss of green sanctuaries such as Bukit Kiara to superfluous development projects is an erosion of our right to a healthy environment that the Malaysian public will not countenance. It is imperative that the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Ministry of Housing and Local Government and National Landscape Department halt all construction and land-clearing activities, review any requests from private owners for development projects within the vicinity of this ecologically-sensitive site, and immediately gazette the areas of Bukit Kiara that are under state ownership as a permanent forest reserve.

Coordinator, Green Living Special Interest Group,
Malaysian Nature Society