TURNING part of the forest of Bukit Enggang in Sik, Kedah, into a forest plantation is unacceptable because most of the harvested logs were of prime size, said Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM).
The NGO pointed out that one of the criteria for establishing forest estates was poor quality forest reserves but the logs harvested from Bukit Enggang measured more than 55cm in diameter.
“Even if a permanent forest reserve is defined as poor, nature is not the cause but humans,” SAM said.
The NGO was responding to Kedah Forestry Department deputy operations director Mohd Rahim Ramli, who recently said Bukit Enggang Forest Reserve covers 6,693ha, of which 1,856ha was protected and 4,835ha was a production forest zone.
“Of the 4,835ha, about 1,000ha were approved for a forest plantation where logging was also approved,” Ramli had said.
SAM, however, stressed that logging had led to soil erosion and the pollution of watercourses which originate from Bukit Enggang.
“The destruction of watercourses and tributaries has affected the ecosystem and the water resources of nearby settlements.”
After soil erosion from the hill ruined their natural water supply, villagers of Kampung Balong Ayam, Kampung Durian Burung and Kampung Paya Terendam formed an action committee called ‘Save the Community’s Water’ to pressure authorities to stop the deforestation.
SAM warned that establishing monoculture forest estates next to the permanent forest reserve would have a negative impact on biodiversity.
It urged authorities to take stern action if the concessionaire cleared the forest without first submitting an environmental impact assessment report to the Department of Environment.