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  Yahoo News 27 Feb 07
Malaysians in buying bid to save forests, says report

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian environmental and residents' groups are joining forces to buy swathes of forest in a desperate bid to save them from developers, a report said Tuesday.

Four groups, including WWF Malaysia and a residents' group from Petaling Jaya, a satellite town near Kuala Lumpur, will set up a national conservation trust fund to collect money to buy land.

More than 60 other non-governmental organisations and residents' associations have also pledged their support for the proposal, said the New Straits Times.

"We want to appeal to the public to give any amount to protect the environment," Victor Oorjitham, a Petaling Jaya resident and the chairman of a committee for the fund was quoted as saying.

"When it comes to green open spaces, it is only logical that people subscribe to such a proposal," he said.

Another activist from Petaling Jaya, Edward Lee, said the groups had to take action after years of protests against environmentally damaging construction had failed to achieve anything.

"By setting up the fund we are putting our money where our mouth is. We can't see it any other way," said Lee, who has met with Malaysians in three states to garner support. "We are not fighting with anyone. This fund will be a collaborative effort," he told the newspaper.

The groups have said the trust fund will have its own board of trustees to ensure proper management and will also appoint auditors, according to the newspaper.

Land purchased will be converted into areas of national heritage, it said.

Malaysian residents' and conservation groups, particularly in and around capital Kuala Lumpur, frequently engage in battles with developers and local councils to save areas from being developed.

Groups have also appealed to the government to protect these areas as park reserves, criticising what they say is unnecessary development.

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