KOTA BARU: More than 12,000 hectares of permanent forest reserves in Kelantan especially in the remote areas, have been encroached by illegal logging syndicates resulting to losses of nearly RM50 million.
Kelantan Forestry Department director Datuk Zahari Ibrahim said the activities were detected since 1970s and had been on-going until now.
"The encroaching into the forest reserves is still alarming but under control, as only 12,000 of the 623,849 hectares had been encroached by these syndicates.
"However, the state government has suffered huge loss of about RM50 million since 40 years ago," he told reporters after attending a dinner organised by Kelantan Timber Association here last night.
The dinner was held in conjunction with the association's 40th anniversary. Also present were state Industry, Trade, Unity and Entrepreneurship Development committee chairman Datuk Anuar Tan Abdullah and the association's chairman Lim Boon kiat.
Zahari said the 12,000 hectares covered 25 of the 30 reserve forests in Kelantan and they included areas in Gua Musang, Tanah Merah and Machang.
"This syndicates have been co-operating with locals and even loggers to do the work. Their modus operandi among others include selling some of the land to outsiders for a huge profit." he said.