The Forestry Department has cut down 15,000 disputed durian trees in a forest reserve in Raub, Pahang
According to New Straits Times, the department launched 'Ops Pamah' on 3 July to clear out Musang King trees in the area.
The operation mobilised about 100 staff from all the district forestry offices in Pahang to fell the durian trees, which the state government claimed were illegally planted.
"Initially, we had expected the operation to last about a month. However, we managed to cut down all the trees which were grown illegally in the forest reserve in nine days," said state Forestry Department assistant director (enforcement) Nor Azirim Ahmad.
"Once the trees are cleared, the department will prepare the site for replanting. Some 20,000 forest tree saplings will be replanted in stages."
He said the Meranti Temak Nipis species were among the saplings which will be replanted at the site.
In another report, Azirim described the hasty operation to fell 15,000 Musang King trees as an "achievement"
He said all parties involved in the operation were very proud of the achievement, especially when it was completed in a short span of time, reported Berita Harian.
'Ops Pamah' was initially scheduled to end on 2 August.
The department added that they will conduct regular patrols at the forest reserve to prevent trespassing cases that happened in the past.
Following the felling of 15,000 disputed Musang King trees in the area, farmers criticised the Forestry Department for their "cruel and heartless" act
The Musang King Alliance (SAMKA), a group of self-identified small-scale durian farmers involved in the legal dispute with the state government, said the 15,000 trees bearing the king of fruits took farmers more than 20 years to grow, reported Malay Mail.
SAMKA president Wilson Chang claimed that the authorities have violated a stay order granted by the Court of Appeal, which allows farmers to continue cultivating durians in the area.
The court ruled that authorities are not allowed to evict or prevent the farmers from entering their orchards.
However, the state government claimed that the cleared area is not part of the court battle between the durian farmers and Royal Pahang Durian Resources-PKPP Sdn Bhd (RPDR-PKPP), a company said to be linked to Pahang royalty, reported Malaysiakini.
Chang decried the authorities for having no empathy for farmers.
"In the eyes of the Pahang Forestry Department, 15,000 durian trees were merely numbers," said Chang.
"Nonetheless, the trees are the only source of livelihood for the farmers, which are also their only hope to survive through the pandemic."
Additionally, SAMKA claims that the irreversible land clearing operation involving 250 acres of land will have a severe impact on the forest reserve.
"As such, the Forestry Department's excuse of 'environment preservation' is unjustifiable and only made the department itself a laughing stock," Chang said.
Earlier this month, 18 farmers were arrested after they confronted authorities for cutting down their durian trees: