Seek international funds to protect forests, SAM tells Kedah

The Ulu Muda forests serve the water needs of over four million people in Penang, Kedah and Perlis. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) today urged Kedah to source international funding through the federal government to help conserve its forests instead of giving logging companies replacement forests.

This follows Kedah’s announcement that it was considering the option to avoid paying licensed loggers compensation of RM1 billion after the withdrawal of concessions at a permanent forest reserve.

SAM president Meenakshi Raman said international funding from the Green Climate Fund, the Adaptation Fund and the Global Environment Facility could help states such as Kedah protect their forests instead of letting them be logged.

“These funds for the protection of forests in the states can only be accessed with the support of the federal government.

“The federal government must urgently access these funds and channel them to the states that are rich in forest resources such as Kedah,” she said in a statement.

She added that this would allow Malaysia to meet its international commitments under the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

She also called for the protection of the Ulu Muda water catchment forests and their surrounding areas, underscoring the importance of sustainable water resources for those in Kedah as well as Perlis and Penang.

The Ulu Muda forests serve the water needs of an estimated 4.09 million people in the three states. About 96% of the raw water in Kedah, 70% in Perlis and more than 80% in Penang comes from Ulu Muda.

In the meantime, Meenakshi said, the Kedah government should focus on gazetting forests as water catchment forests if this had not already been done.

“Otherwise, we will be facing a serious water crisis in the coming years, especially due to the impact of climate change.

“We should not be inviting future disasters, including those from the impending climate and water crises that could result due to the destruction of our remaining forests and biodiversity.”

Yesterday, Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said his government was considering providing replacement forests which are categorised as production forests to logging concessions after part of the Ulu Muda Forest was gazetted as water catchment forests.

Otherwise, he said, Kedah might face lawsuits from the loggers as well as compensation claims of close to RM1 billion.

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