MEMBERS of the Malaysian Nature Society Kedah Branch are heartened and elated by the announcement by the Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister that the Kedah state government is revoking the logging permits in the Ulu Muda forest, “No more logging in Ulu Muda” (The Star, Sept 5).
We are also heartened by the farsightedness of the present Kedah state government in agreeing to stop logging this massive catchment forests that harvest and feed water to the three dams, Muda, Pedu and Ahning, which together provide water for domestic and industrial usage in Perlis, Kedah (including Langkawi) and Penang.
Water harvested in Ulu Muda is also used for double cropping in the Muda Irrigation Scheme which produces 45% of our total annual national rice requirement.
The cessation of logging in Ulu Muda will ensure that the three northern states will have sustainable water supply and prevent water shortages in the future. In this respect, the Federal Government should provide compensation for the Kedah state government to fund its development and the other planned economic projects.
Besides its importance as a water catchment, the 162,000ha forest in Ulu Muda is the last of the large forest reserves in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and its rich biodiversity is yet to be explored.
The Malaysian Nature Society has initiated a large-scale and long-term scientific expedition of Ulu Muda to ascertain the flora and fauna in the forest. A public forum and workshop on the scientific expedition was conducted by MNS Kedah Branch on Jan 29 this year in Alor Setar with the participation of government agencies, NGOs and members of the public.
All present unanimously supported the idea of studying the biodiversity of Ulu Muda through a long-term scientific expedition. MNS Kedah has approached many agencies involved in the management of Ulu Muda about this proposed expedition and they have agreed to support our initiative.
In the past, the Malaysian Nature Society had successfully carried out similar scientific expeditions in Endau-Rompin in Johor-Pahang (1980s) and Belum in Perak (1990s). Like the previous expeditions, a thorough and full-scale exploration and study, bringing in experts and researchers from local universities and other research organisations for a period of two to three years in Ulu Muda will enable us to determine the potential value in ecotourism, sport fishing, and conserving it as a national natural heritage park for Kedah.
Towards this end, MNS hopes to get the support and approval of the Kedah government for this project. We will also need financial support from corporations and businesses in the private sector in undertaking this important mission of determining the biodiversity of Ulu Muda and the best solutions for this area and Kedah now and in the future.
LT COL (Rtd) HUSAMUDIN YAACOB
Malaysian Nature Society Kedah Branch