While it may still be a long road ahead before Bukit Kiara is gazetted, a civil society initiative to push for the proper management of the green lung has already begun.
Spearheaded by Friends of Bukit Kiara (FOBK), a movement comprising community stakeholders and environment groups, aims to work with the government to ensure Bukit Kiara is sustainably managed in the long run.
Some 30 stakeholders attended a roundtable discussion in Taman Tun Dr Ismail on Sunday to crystallise their intention of incorporating an action plan for the management of Bukit Kiara.
The area has yet to be gazetted despite calls to do so since 1994. The new Pakatan Harapan government has vowed to look into the matter.
FOBK president Dr Kribanandan Gurusamy Naidu said without proper management, a gazette alone would be meaningless.
The management plan moots the idea of having a joint management committee comprising the Federal Territories Ministry, Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the National Landscape Department among others to ensure the voices of the community are heard in management matters.
“There was a lot of frustration during our annual general meeting in July and people did not seem to know what they wanted,” said Kribanandan.
“We decided we should develop a narrative of one voice, one vision and mission for Bukit Kiara.”
Kribanandan added this was why the group decided to engage with a wider range of NGOs to elicit views to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES) director Leela Panikkar who was at the discussion said while some believe the park should be gazetted before other plans are made, there is nothing wrong working in tandem.
“The park has not been gazetted, but this only means there is time for people to network and learn from others as gazetting an area alone does not ensure that it is safe.”
“Look at what happened in Taman Rimba Ampang. Despite being gazetted as part of the Selangor State Park in in 2005, it was de-gazetted in 2014 to make way for the East Klang Valley Expresway (EKVE) project.”
“This despite the state part being classified as a Rank 1 Environmentally Sensitive Area under the National Physical Plan and accorded the highest status of protection,” she said.
Leela said communities must be vigilant when it comes to green lungs and must be part of a joint committee in decision-making to ensure things are above board.
“We fail because many times we (the people) only come in when a project has been planned… we need to know before,” she added.
FOBK working group co-ordinator Leon Koay, said gazettement and management of the green lung must work hand in hand.
“The gazettement (once it happens) must spell out a proper management plan for Bukit Kiara.
“At this point, we don’t know how Bukit Kiara can be best managed and that was why we initiated this stakeholder discussion – to be together as a civil society and see how best we can work with the government to manage the area,” he said.
FOBK secretary Peter Leong said a proper management plan was vital as case studies show that despite such a plan and gazette, things may not move in the expected direction.
“There is a gazette and management plan for the Kota Damansara Community Forest but eight years later, nothing has moved. In Bukit Kerinchi, the area is gazetted but there is no proper management plan and we don’t want this to happen to Bukit Kiara,” he said.
Others at the discussion included Calvin Jacob from the Taman Tugu Project, Julian Gomez from the Kota Damansara Community Forest Society and Taman Tun Dr Ismail residents’ association chairman Abdul Hafiz Abu Bakar.
Jacob raised the possibility of creating a trust to own, maintain and manage while Gomez said not much has moved in terms of working coordination between the volunteer stakeholders groups and the Forestry Department for the Kota Damansara Community Forest.
Abdul Hafiz, meanwhile, praised FOBK for organising the session, saying it was a structured method to garner a more holistic input from stakeholders.
Views gathered from the session will be presented at an upcoming roundtable session where more stakeholders will be invited, including relevant ministries and agencies managing and overseeing Bukit Kiara now.