Several non-governmental organisations (listed below) are shocked to learn about recent occurrences of deforestation activities in a forest reserve in the Greater Ulu Muda Forest.
According to satellite images, between May and November 2020, some 87 acres (0.35 sq. kilometres) of natural forest near to Tasik Ahning, in the Bukit Keramat Forest Reserve have been clear-felled and terraced for what appears to be a plantation (see images below).
The images also reveal earlier deforestation and terracing in an area close to this most recent deforested area.
Given recent assurances by the Kedah Menteri Besar that the Greater Ulu Muda Forest will be protected as a water catchment where no logging activities are permitted, we call on the Kedah state government to urgently clarify the situation.
Kedah MB Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor told the Kedah State Assembly in August this year that for the domestic, agricultural and industrial needs of the 4.2 million people in Kedah, Perlis and Penang, the state government was continuing the policy of maintaining the Greater Ulu Muda Forest as a water catchment with no permitted logging/deforestation activities. We are most alarmed by the current highlighted deforestation from these satellite images. Such deforestation activities will undermine the ability of the state to receive Federal funds for forest protection from sources such as the Ecological Fiscal Transfer for Biodiversity Conservation (EFT) proposed in the 2021 Budget. The EFT will make available RM70 million for states that protect their forests.
We understand from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, that in 2019 a sum of RM60 million was channelled to states to protect their forests. We are not aware of how much was channelled to Kedah.
We understand that the federal government is also taking further measures to support state governments under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Finance Framework with the provision of further funds.
We reiterate our call to the Kedah state government to check and monitor deforestation, including halting further logging and approval of forest conversions for plantations or other environmentally-damaging uses, in the Greater Ulu Muda Forest.
We wish to underscore that the provision of funds from the Federal government to the Kedah state government must be in order to maintain the Greater Ulu Muda Forest in perpetuity for the valuable ecosystem services it provides, including ensuring water security, regulating the climate and protecting biodiversity.
By protecting its forests, the Kedah state government also plays a critical role in supporting Malaysia to fulfil its international commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Kedah state government must not undermine such efforts by allowing logging in the Greater Ulu Muda Forest complex.
This statement is endorsed by the following groups:
- Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP)
- Ecotourism & Conservation Society of Malaysia (ECOMY)
- Forum Kedah Sejahtera dan Harmoni
- Gerakan Merbok Bangkit Kedah
- Jaringan Penggerak Melayu Desa Negeri Kedah
- Jaringan Pengguna Lestari Kedah
- Jaringan Taawun ‘alal Birri Wattaqwa Sungai Petani (Network for Cooperation on Goodness and Piety Sungai Petani)
- Majlis Muafakat Muslimah Masjid Kedah
- Malaysian Cave and Karst Conservancy (MCKC)
- Malaysian Nature Society Penang Branch
- Persatuan Alam Sekitar Kedah
- Pertubuhan Dhuafa Sejahtera Kedah
- Persatuan Peduli Dhuafa dan Pengupayaan Masyarakat
- Pertubuhan Menangani Gejala Sosial Malaysia (UNGGAS MALAYSIA)
- Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (PEKA) Kedah
- Rangkaian Petani Lestari Alam
- Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)
- Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES)
- Water Watch Penang (WWP)
- Yayasan Aman Kedah
- Yayasan Pendidikan Orang Asli Malaysia
For further information, please contact Meena Raman, SAM President at 012 4300042