Protect our catchments to ensure water supply


  • Letters
  • Saturday, 31 May 2003

I AGREE forests do indeed regenerate with the death of a few individual trees, and that cutting just three trees per acre might not seem very damaging, “When nature needs mankind’s help” by Eco Assist (The Star, May 26).  

However, one issue with the heli-logging in Ulu Muda is not so much those three trees, but the 400km of roads that go with the logging exercise. Just one helicopter has been nominated for the logging of over 120,000ha, and it will carry logs no further than 1.5km to the nearest drop-off yard. 

There was no accounting for trees taken to build the road. Literally millions of trees would have been “harvested”, a euphemism in view of the fact that no person planted them, to build the roads. But these are not counted in the loggers’ three trees per acre.  

The main issue is to keep our water catchments functioning as filters and suppliers of clean water for everyone. Most states in Malaysia are considered to be in water deficit. There is not enough to meet the demands of homes, agriculture and industry. 

Damage the forested catchments and there will be even less water when it is needed most, in the dry season, and more flooding in the wet.  

Eco Assist’s mention of “interest groups” protesting on the basis that if man had been around at the time he could have saved the dinosaurs stretches logic a bit. 

Rhinoceros will be the next to become extinct, and we are unable to help them without preserving large tracts of undisturbed habitat. One does not have to think back 60 million years to find examples of where man has wantonly destroyed habitat with no thought for its species.  

Sustainable development is the objective of the Friends of Ulu Muda, a coalition of NGOs including the Malaysian Nature Society, conservationists, consumer associations, farmers, the bidan (midwives) society, taxpayers, fishermen and many more.  

If we carelessly allow short-term gains to take precedence over long-term costs, we will all be picking up an enormous bill from the logging’s damage in future.  

The Friends of Ulu Muda commends the Cabinet for supporting our stand to protect our national assets, and urge every state to gazette all water catchment forests to preserve our nation’s water supply.  

 

ANGELA HIJJAS,  

Selangor branch chairman, 

Malaysian Nature Society. 

(via e-mail)  

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