• Farah Salim

Authorities urged to probe into online ads selling forest land


3 February 2022

By Farah Salim


KUALA LUMPUR: Rimba Disclosure Project (RDP), an independent initiative geared towards protecting Malaysia’s rainforests urged an investigation to be made regarding on the online advertisements promoting the sale of forest land.


The group said that based on their survey, they have identified and verified a number of 43,539 hectares of forested land purportedly for sale through 28 listings on websites including Mudah.my, iProperty, PropertyGuru and Facebook.


According to them, the listings include land within forest reserves, Central Forest Spine habitat linkages and indigenous customary land in which vast majority of these listings are advertised for conversion to agriculture with a 99-year lease.


“We the undersigned demand that the Yang Berhormat Menteri Besar(s). Forestry Departments (Jabatan Perhutanan) in cooperation with the relevant departments governing land in Malaysia open up detailed investigations in relation to the recorded online listings.


“We are concerned over the likely conversion of forested lands which are being advertised for sale in the states of Perak, Selangor, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan, which will result in Malaysia being "locked-into" further deforestation in the future, and which will exacerbate issues of biodiversity loss and land degradation, the climate crisis, and flooding,” they said in a statement today.


Meanwhile, the group also demanded that the findings of any probe be made public and appropriate action taken if any breach of the law was involved.


“All state governments ensure that relevant laws, policies and conservation practises are respected with the purpose of halting deforestation and biodiversity loss, as expressed in several national policies and commitments,” they said.


Besides that, they also urged state governments to uphold the principle of protecting forests to safeguard against climate change, and to stop the rapid rate of deforestation even if within legal means which includes the sale of stateland forests to private companies.


This include the degazetting of gazetted forests and their subsequent intended conversions into other land uses.


“We also urged property listing sites to consider it their ethical responsibility to fight against environmental destruction by better scrutinising listings to ensure full compliance with national laws, and that environmental priorities and indigenous rights are upheld,” they said.


The RDP has only been monitoring listings related to the sale of forests and clear-cutting of forests in Peninsular Malaysia, and not concessions for selective logging which was sighted on the internet.