Friday, 21 November 2008

No worry over logging

Wednesday November 19, 2008 The StarOnline, Malaysia

No worry over logging

KUALA TERENGGANU: The Terengganu government will not compromise on the impact to the environment caused by logging in the Tembat and Petuang forest reserves for the construction of two dams fringing Kenyir Lake.

“There is no need to worry as efforts are in place to safeguard the environment,” Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said said recently in response to concerns from World Wildlife Fund Malaysia over the logging.

It was reported last Wednesday that the endangered Sumatran rhinoceros and Malayan tiger faced an uncertain future as 6,130ha of forests, the size of 7,000 football fields, was being cleared.

Details in an Environmental Impact Assessment released recently showed that the state had also proposed the logging of adjacent forests, an area double the size of the forest reserves.

The logging poses a threat to wildlife and risks polluting rivers as the Tembat and Petuang forests reserves act as water catchment areas for Kenyir Lake.

WWF also expressed concerns over erosion due to logging in the catchment areas leading to a decrease in freshwater fish such as kelah.
Ahmad said that efforts were being made to protect wildlife.

These include the establishment of an elephant sanctuary with the co-operation of the National Parks and Wildlife Department, which will relocate endangered animals in the area.

Ahmad explained that the logging was to prevent the area from being submerged when the second dam was built in 2012.

He referred to 1986 when the Kenyir dam was completed and 60,000ha of forest was inundated, causing loss of revenue.

“The trees have to be felled. Otherwise, there will be a repetition of the Kenyir incident,” he said.

If the trees were not chopped, they would degenerate under water, and it would be costly for the state to retrieve them later, he said.

“We are gaining logging revenue, which will be channelled into the state’s development fund.

“Terengganu is making a sacrifice for the nation,” he said in reference to the construction of the two dams to generate hydroelectric power for the country.