The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) welcome the statement by the Land, Water and Natural Resources Minister YB Dr Xavier Jayakumar that the Kedah state is revoking logging permits in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve with immediate effect. YB also stated that the Federal government would compensate Kedah for its loss of revenue.
There are funds that are available internationally for the protection of our forests for the purposes of combating climate change and conserving biodiversity, and the Federal and State governments must avail themselves of these resources.
Revoking the licenses, by itself, is not enough. Urgent action must be taken to gazette the Ulu Muda Forest Reserves as water catchment forests and protect them for the vital functions these forests provide to society.
The Ulu Muda Forest Reserve and surrounding forested areas (referred to as the Greater Ulu Muda Forest in brief) is of national importance. Covering a total land area of 106,418 hectares (ha), the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve (UMFR) is the largest water catchment area in the northern region, filling the three major dams in Kedah – the Ahning Dam, the Muda Dam and the Pedu Dam.
Raw water from the Ulu Muda also flows through Sungai Muda to Penang. These forests are critical in meeting the water needs of Perlis, Kedah and Penang, and serving an estimated population of 4.09 million people in three states.
The raw water originating from Ulu Muda is also essential for double cropping in the rice fields of Kedah, Perlis and Penang, which includes the nation’s rice bowl.
The forests also play a major role as a ‘carbon sink’ critical for addressing climate change.
Under the previous government, logging has damaged areas in the UMFR, and there should be no logging at all permitted in the area, including extractive activities such as mining or quarrying.
There should not be any more excuses to not take action in gazetting the UMFR as water catchment forest.
Press Statement, 5 September 2018