NGO lauds call to stop logging

1 Khaidir at a timber collection site in Ulu Tembeling.2 Shariffa showing the murky stream near a logging camp. -filepics

KUANTAN: An environmental NGO is calling for a complete stop to logging in Ulu Tembeling and not just a temporary suspension.

Pahang Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) said it was not against economic activities but they should not be conducted in water catchment areas.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob had ordered that logging cease in Ulu Tembeling because of pollution concerns.

“Sungai Pahang as well as the two main rivers at its head, Sungai Tembeling and Sungai Jelai, are now unusually shallow and murky.

“This is caused by a lack of natural water source from streams as a result of the destruction of water catchment areas because of logging and mining activities,” said Peka chairman Khaidir Ahmad in a statement.

Khaidir added this in turn disrupted the water processing plants’ operations, causing inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of people in Pahang.

He said at the same time, fish farmers along Sungai Pahang from Jerantut to Pekan were also facing a dark future as their aquaculture activities were particularly affected by the pollution.

“We hope that logging in Ulu Tembeling and mining at the head of Sungai Jelai can be stopped once and for all and not only temporarily, to protect our raw water source.

“Pahang Peka also urges the state government to review and reduce the number of sand pumps operating along Sungai Pahang, especially in Temerloh which is known as the Patin Town.

“Pumping operations are not only causing long-term negative effects to the fish farming industry but also worsening river pollution and eroding the riverbank while damaging the roads in rural areas,” said Khaidir.

The state government had taken the drastic measure of ordering all logging activities in Ulu Tembeling stopped with immediate effect, pending investigations.

This was in response to media reports, including by The Star that logging activities at the border of Taman Negara was threatening the environment and eco-tourism in the area.

Adnan had said that the state government had issued seven licenses to carry out logging activities in the area, including to Yayasan Pahang.

“We have stopped logging work there immediately pending investigations.

“The parties undertaking logging activities there prior to this had valid licenses.

“The areas approved for logging also did not include the Kuala Tahan National Park, nor Taman Negara’s reserve land,” he told Bernama.

It had been previously reported that rivers flowing into Sungai Tembeling had been severely affected by logging in the Ulu Tembeling forests.

Peka president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil had said Sungai Pengau and Sungai Lau have become dirty from erosion run-offs and the sediment was flowing into Sungai Tembeling.

Pahang National Park Tourism Operators Association chairman Abdul Jalil Rahman said although the logging is not within Taman Negara, it was damaging the park’s image.

Abdul Jalil said tourists also complained of over-development.

Tourists expect to see a pristine rainforest but they leave disappointed.

“Many complain that they did not even see any animals.

“In the past, some tourists would even cry when they leave Taman Negara but these days, repeat visitors are rare,” he said.

Tour guide Roslan Abu Kassim, 50, claimed that the massive flood in Taman Negara last year was caused by Sungai Tembeling becoming too shallow.

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