A lorry seen exiting the Bukit Sekilau area on Nov 15. MUHAMMAD ASYRAF SAWAL

KUANTAN: The Pahang chapter of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) warned of escalating human-animal conflicts as land clearing at Bukit Sekilau in the state capital here drives more wildlife into urban areas.

Its chairman Noor Jehan Abu Bakar said that the situation unfolding at the 300m hill is alarming due to mass deforestation near an urban environment.

"The people nearby will be inundated with wild boars and monkeys because of loss of habitat up there.

"(Land clearing) will push animals to encroach onto human premises. There will be human and animal conflicts if we do not address the problem holistically," she said.

She was responding to the Bukit Sekilau land clearing issue which has raised public concern on environmental degradation and negative fallout on the surrounding human population.

Jehan explained that their own on-the-ground inspection revealed that the land clearing has led to habitat destruction, biodiversity erosion and environmental pollution, including air, water and noise pollutions, among others.

"We strongly feel that we need urban forest levels to stabilise the amount of carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," she said.

She also warned that Bukit Sekilau residents are rightly concerned about the heightened risks of mud floods from the cleared hill especially as the monsoon season is underway across the state.

"We are worried that the impact from this deforestation can be viewed in a bigger picture encompassing global warming, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity," she said.

The NST and Harian Metro had reported on residents’ concerns on land clearing in Bukit Sekilau.

The area is now an eyesore with evident bald patches. Residents worry about the adverse impact of the land clearing on the environment and surrounding population. The hill is very visible from many parts of Kuantan.

In a recent response to the report, state Basic Facilities and Environmental Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Soffi Abdul Razak said that state government agencies, including the Kuantan Municipal Council (MPK), district Land and Mines Office and state Minerals and Geoscience Department, were looking into the controversial project.

He said the agencies were told to look into all the documentation produced by parties involved with the land to determine whether their application for leave to clear land had been submitted to MPK.

He added that the agencies were also trying to determine whether the project required an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to be tendered to the authorities.

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