Group welcomes Kedah move to preserve Ulu Muda forests

The Kedah government wants Putrajaya to give it RM100 million to protect the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.

GEORGE TOWN: An environmental group today welcomed Kedah’s move to ask for RM100 million from Putrajaya to preserve a major forest in the state where millions of consumers in the northern region rely for water supply.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) said the federal government must now speedily allocate the sum as 4.2 million people in Perlis, Kedah and Penang rely on the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve as a water catchment area.

The forest has come under threat of logging which sparked concerns about sustaining water supply to major rivers connected to the reserve.

“There are international funds available for the protection of forests that can be used by states who kept their forests intact.

“These forests perform valuable ecosystem services in ensuring water security, regulating the climate and protecting its biodiversity,” SAM president Meenakshi Raman said in a statement.

She said if such funds are received by Kedah, it should not be used to compensate loggers who had lost their rights to log at the forest reserve.

This was after the Kedah government claimed it had to fork out RM1.5 billion to compensate loggers after their concessions were gazetted as “untouchable” by the previous Pakatan Harapan-led state administration.

The past Kedah governments have had a history of approving timber logging concessions in excess of the limits allowed under federal law, the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) had claimed.

CAP has also called for an urgent royal inquiry into logging over the years to check for propriety.