23 May 2013, Kuala Lumpur –Friends of Ulu Muda (FOUM), a coalition of environmental NGOs advocating for the protection of the Greater Ulu Muda forest in Kedah, applaud the decision by the state’s newly-elected Menteri Besar, Dato’ Paduka Mukhriz Tun Mahathir, to temporarily cease all logging activities in the state.
The decision, which was announced on Saturday, cited complaints from villagers on the supply and quality of water as the reason for the review of logging activities and that the activities may resume upon the recommendations of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The Greater Ulu Muda forest, which makes up more than half of Kedah’s forest cover with an area of over 1,600 km2, acts as the main water catchment for northern Peninsular Malaysia. Three man-made reservoirs provide Kedah with 96% of its water supply, Penang with 80%, and also supply water to Perlis.
Logging, which disrupts a forest’s water filtration and regulatory functions, may thus affect the quality and availability of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes in these states. This in turn may result in increased water treatment costs and huge financial losses for both the manufacturing and hospitality industries in Kedah and Penang. It could also jeopardize Malaysia’s food security by stunting paddy production by farmers of the Muda Irrigation Scheme (which currently produces as much as 40% of the country’s rice supply).
FOUM sees the temporary ban on logging as an excellent move towards the protection of this important water catchment and fully agrees that the value of a standing tree supersedes its timber values. FOUM would like to reiterate its stand that there should be no logging of whatever kind in the area and hopes that the Kedah State Government will permanently protect the Greater Ulu Muda forest by gazetting it as a state or national park. The rich biodiversity of the Ulu Muda forest and their potential for the sustainable utilisation of non-timber forest products and ecosystem services should be protected and conserved to serve the long term interests of the State and the country.
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Consumers’ Association of Penang, Malaysian Nature Society, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, Water Watch Penang, WWF-Malaysia, EcoKnights, Environmental Protection Society of Malaysia, PACOS Trust (Partners of Community Organisations), Pertubuhan Muafakat Warga Desa (Rural Citizens Negeri Kedah), SOS-Selangor, Third World Network, Treat Every Environment Special S/B (TrEES),
Wetlands International Malaysia, Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (R.E.A.C.H).
For more information please visit www.saveulumuda.com