KUANTAN: The Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka) is sending a team to Fraser's Hill to check on rumours that loggers have resumed logging activities near an ecotourist spot, in defiance of an ongoing temporary cease order.
Its president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said this comes after a visitor claimed to have spotted a lorry entering the Batu Talam Forest Reserve recently.
"We have heard from someone that a lorry was trying to remove the logs (piled within the area) but we need to verify this first," she said.
She said Peka needed to ensure that the information was accurate before proceeding with further action. So far, she said none of them have witnessed the return of logging activities in the said area.
Shariffa said the team has been tasked to check on the validity of the information, including taking photographs of the area.
"If it is true (resumption of logging activities), we will issue a statement on the matter. They (loggers) should not be touching Fraser's Hill at all," added the 55-year-old, who established the environmental group in 2010.
Shariffa said legal action will be taken if there was evidence that loggers have violated the temporary cease order issued by Pahang Forestry Department on Sept 8.
The order, which covered the removal of logs and construction of roads to logging sites, was issued pursuant to objections by Peka to logging activities in the area that measured 106.78 hectares.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had said that the plot belonged to the Pahang state government with mining lots within the Batu Talam Forest Reserve, located about 15km from Fraser's Hill.
Meanwhile, unhappy with the Forestry Department's handling of the matter, Shariffa claimed that there were no patrols being conducted by the authorities at the disputed area.
"There are no patrols at all," she said, pointing out that the department should upholsd its responsibility to safeguard the pristine state and ecosystem in Fraser's Hill and the surrounding forest.
Meanwhile, a Raub Forestry officer denied that logging-related activities have resumed at the Batu Talam Forest Reserve or any area near Fraser's Hill.
He also refuted Shariffa's claim that the department had failed to carry out patrols in the area.
"I have not heard (of resumption of logging activities). I myself went there (for patrols) around midday (today). I did not see any signs of lorries. It is still closed," said the officer, who declined to be named.
He added that since the Sept 8 order, all heavy machinery have been removed from the area and that the entrance into the area blocked to prevent entry and exit of vehicles.
Pahang Forestry director Datuk Indera Mohd Paiz Kamaruzaman also refuted Shariffa's claim on lack of patrols, stating that the Raub Forestry officers were constantly monitoring the area to ensure compliance with the order.
"We always conduct patrols in the area," he said, warning that his officers would not hesitate to detain those found trying to transport logs out of the area.
The New Straits Times reported on Sept 26 on logging activities near the Fraser's Hill area, which had been gazetted as primary forest reserve and water catchment area.