Wetlands International would like to express our deep concern about the proposal by Selangor State Agriculture Development Corporation (PKPS) plantations to convert a 971ha area of peat swamp forest (PSF) into oil palm plantations. The clearance and drainage of this site and planting of oil palm would have significant environmental impacts on a global scale.
The North Selangor PSF average peat depth, measures approximately 6 meters, making it unsuitable for oil palm growth. From the soil measurements taken in the area, this peatland area consists of approximately 58 million tonnes of peat which is the equivalent to over 5 million tonnes of carbon (C). The site will emit approximately 64,190- 107,289 tonnes of eCO2 / per year if it is converted. The conversion will contribute significantly to the greenhouse gases emission and this goes against Malaysia’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord to reduce the emissions intensity by 45%,by year 2030.
In addition, one of our studies has revealed that massive conversion of peat swamp to agriculture will cause extensive subsidence and flooding. The study analysed an area of 850,000 hectares of coastal peatlands in Sarawak, and produced a model which demonstrates that in 25 years 42% of the area will experience flooding problems. In 50 years the percentage affected will increase to 56% while the nature of flooding becomes more serious and permanent, and in 100 years 82% of the peatlands will be affected. If the North Selangor PSF is converted, subsidence and extensive flooding will happen in Selangor state as well.
Apart from that, North Selangor PSF is home to a significant number of endangered and endemic species such as panthers, tapirs, sun bears and a significant diversity of peat specialist fish species found nowhere else globally.
We appeal to you to reconsider granting permission for this development and instead integrate this area of land into the North Selangor peat swamp reserve (Sg. Karang Forest Reserve). This would be in line with Malaysia’s recent commitment (as announced by Minister of Primary Industries) to have no more plantation development on peat as well as respecting this site’s Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) class 2 status.
From Wetlands International, Malaysia