Muda reserve logging plan a 'cruel act against nature
Wed, Jun 25, 2008, The New Straits Times Malaysia
Alor Star, Malaysia: The Malaysian Nature Society has described the state government's plan to log timber in the Ulu Muda forest reserve as "a cruel act against nature".
Its Kedah branch chairman, Phang Fatt Khow, said the logging, if carried out, would also displace tens of thousands of padi farmers under the Muda Agricultural Development Authority.
"It is simply a very bad plan to earn money for the state.
"The logging would destroy the rich bio-diversity of the forest reserve and cause many people to suffer," he said when asked about Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak's plan to allow logging in the forest reserve, a gazetted water catchment area that supplies water for irrigation, domestic and industrial use to Kedah, Penang and Perlis.
Phang said there were still many other avenues the state government could look to for funds for Kedah.
He suggested that the state government seriously consider eco-tourism in the forest reserve as a win-win situation for man and nature.
"Ulu Muda is a very big forest reserve. We have not made any serious efforts to explore its potential in every aspects.
"However, we feel that the forest reserve should be preserved as a national heritage.
"We should carry out environmentally-friendly activities like research and other studies on the forest.
"Ulu Muda could also be a money-spinner for the state if we carried out sustainable activities."
The Ulu Muda forest reserve is a huge water basin which collects water in three dams - Pedu, Ahning and Muda.
In 2002, the then Barisan Nasional state government had proposed to remove valuable timber in the forest reserve using helicopters.
Under the system, a felled tree would be lifted up vertically from the forest to ensure minimum damage to the surrounding areas.
In May 2003, the cabinet decided not to allow any logging in Ulu Muda to preserve water quality in the area.
Azizan claimed the federal government promised to give the state RM100 million in compensation for sparing the forest reserve.
But since taking over the running of the state, Azizan, who had sung a different tune as an opposition MP, had cited a shortage of funds for reviving the logging proposal.