SAM, CAP welcome Kedah's decision to immediately revoke logging licences in Ulu Muda

Audrey Dermawan

GEORGE TOWN: Two non-governmental organisations (NGO) have given the thumbs up to Kedah government’s decision to immediately revoke logging licences in Ulu Muda.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), in lauding Land, Water and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar’s statement on the matter, also noted that the Federal Government would compensate Kedah for its loss of revenue.

SAM and CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris said there were funds available internationally for the protection of forests for the purposes of combating climate change and conserving biodiversity.

He said the Federal and state government must avail themselves to these resources.

“However, revoking the licences, by itself, is not enough. Urgent action must be taken to gazette the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve as water catchment forests and protect them for the vital functions these forests provide to society,” he said today.

Idris said the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve and surrounding forest areas (referred to as the Greater Ulu Muda Forest) was of national importance.

Covering a total land area of 106,418 hectares, the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve is the largest water catchment area in the northern region, filling the three major dams in Kedah - Ahning Dam, Muda Dam and 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,” he said.

He noted that, under the previous government, logging had damaged areas in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.

“As such, there should be no logging 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 Ulu Muda Forest Reserve as water catchment forest,” he said.

Yesterday, Xavier said the Kedah government would revoke logging permits in the massive Ulu Muda Forest Reserve and suspend new ones with immediate effect.

Xavier said he had met Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir on Monday and was given the good news. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd