Friends of Ulu Muda (FOUM), a coalition of concerned Malaysian civil society organisations of which CAP and SAM are members of has called on the Kedah State Government to gazette the Ulu Muda forests as water catchment forests under the National Forestry Act 1984.
“There should be no logging of whatever kind in the Ulu Muda forests and its protection should be enhanced by establishing a State or National Park. A management plan should be prepared for the State or National Park,” FOUM said.
The rich biodiversity of the Ulu Muda forest and their potential for the sustainable utilization of non-timber forest products and services should be protected and conserved to serve the long term interests of the State and the country, said the coalition.
The coalition added that state governments have an important role to play in gazetting all identified water catchment areas to confront issues related to development in these important forests.
FOUM hopes that the Kedah state will take the lead in this, ensuring the protection of its important water catchment forests.
The Ulu Muda Forest Reserve is located within the Greater Ulu Muda forests, which is the last remaining tract of large contiguous forest in northern Malaysia.
The Greater Ulu Muda forests functions as the water catchment for the Ahning, Pedu and Muda dams. These three dams, which are all located in the Greater Ulu Muda forests, provide the main water supply for Kedah (96%), Penang (80%) and Perlis.
Logging in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve is likely to result in the loss of environmental services provided by the forest. For example, without the water storing and filtering functions of natural forests, rainfall will not be captured and stored while the siltation of rivers and water bodies will surge. River flow will become more irregular, with increased incidence of low flow causing deterioration of water quality. These services, which are currently provided for free, may have to later be replaced by man-made processes that could cost hundreds of million RM.
Thus if logging continues, water catchments will be seriously damaged, jeopardizing security of water supply in the northern region.
A water shortage or deterioration of water quality caused by logging activities would have adverse financial effects on industries based in the northern region. These include industrial areas such as the Kulim Hi-Tech Park in Kedah, and Bayan Lepas and Seberang Perai in Penang; as well as the tourism industry in Langkawi and Penang; all of which are heavily dependent on the water originating from the Ulu Muda forests. Additionally, the livelihood of more than 48,000 paddy farmers who irrigate their rice fields using water sourced from the Muda and Pedu dams will also be threatened.
Logging roads, which accommodate the extraction of timber, will soon become an easy access to the Ulu Muda forests. This will increase the demands for the land to be converted to, for example, plantations and housing, which will all further damage the catchment and add to the costs of establishing an acceptable water supply. In addition, there will likely be an increase in encroachments, such as for wildlife poaching and illegal extraction of forest products.
Press Release, 31 January 2013
Download FOUM’s Position Statement here
FOUM (Friends of Ulu Muda) is a coalition of concerned Malaysian civil society organisations who have come together to stop logging activities in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve. Its rationale is because any logging activity in water catchment forests is in conflict with the catchment’s role.
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