We refer to the article in The Star dated June 13 titled ‘Penang Faces Water Hike’. As the main organiser of the seminar on the ‘Importance of the Ulu Muda Forest for Water Security in Northern Peninsular Malaysia’ mentioned in the article, WWF-Malaysia would like to set the record straight on misleading statements made in the article, particularly with regard to the alleged threat of illegal logging in the Ulu Muda water catchment area.
To the best knowledge of WWF-Malaysia, there is currently no illegal logging being carried out within the confines of the Ulu Muda forest and the catchment of the three dams (Muda, Ahning and Pedu) in the area.
During the seminar, a few of the speakers pointed out that there was illegal logging detected at the Pedu area of the Ulu Muda forest during the construction of the Trans-Eastern Kedah Interland Highway (TEKIH) in 2007 and that action had been taken by the Kedah State Forestry Department.
This incident, involving a few trees in a small area near the road, was reported in The Star on 29 March 2007. We have checked with the Kedah State Forestry Department and they have verified that there is no recent report of illegal logging in the area.
The statement in the article that “illegal logging is already taking place in Ulu Muda, which covers about 160,000ha, or about twice the size of Perlis” is therefore inaccurate and misleading as it implies that there are illegal logging activities currently happening in Ulu Muda and that the whole of the forested area is affected .
WWF-Malaysia thus urges The Star to issue a statement that will correct the public’s misconceptions that may have arisen from the said article. We would also like to record our disappointment that the article did not touch on the positive aspects of the workshop which was aimed at increasing awareness about the importance of the Ulu Muda forest for water security in northern Peninsular Malaysia and forging stronger partnerships amongst the private and public sectors to find innovative solutions for financing the conservation of the Ulu Muda forest.
WWF-Malaysia is, however, appreciative that the article highlighted the call made by Ir Jaseni Maidinsa of the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) at the seminar that “all water catchment areas in the country including Ulu Muda must be gazetted” which is in line with decisions made by the National Forestry Council.
Dionysius SK Sharma is executive director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.