GEORGE TOWN, Jun 24 – Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) want the newly-elected Kedah Government to gazette the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve as a water catchment area and immediately review and revoke logging licences approved by the previous government.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) also want logging activities to stop within the forest reserve as it threatens “life-supporting functions”. SAM and CAP president S. M. Mohamed Idris said, under the previous government, logging had damaged the forest reserve.
He said both the NGOs were deeply concerned over a recent statement by Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer, Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa that the extent of logging at the forest reserve meant all its trees would be cut down within 12 to 15 years, which in turn would cause a serious water crisis.
Besides logging, mining and quarrying activities should also be stopped, said Mohamed Idris. He also welcomed the move by the Penang Government to initiate a meeting between the federal government and leaders of Kedah and Perlis to find a solution to the logging activities so that the forest reserve was not further threatened.
He said both the NGOs also supported a proposal by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow to assist the Kedah Government to seek compensation from the federal government in lieu of “forest premium” for logging as the state would lose revenue because of the logging restrictions in the area. He said SAM and CAP also agreed that compensation be given to the Kedah Government to preserve its forests.
“Apart from compensation from the federal government to Kedah, there are also international funds such as from the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility for the protection and conservation of our forests. The federal and state governments must utilise these resources immediately.”
Mohamed Idris noted that raw water originating from the forest reserve was also essential for double cropping in the rice fields of Kedah, Perlis and Penang, which was part of the country’s rice bowl. It also played a major role as “carbon sink” critical for addressing climate change, he said. — Bernama