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'Why did Kedah only classify 16 percent of Ulu Muda as water catchment forests?'

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The Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) has questioned why Kedah only classified only 16 percent, or 17,025 hectares of the Ulu Muda Permanent Reserve Forests, as “water catchment forests”.

PBAPP CEO Jaseni Maidinsa (photo, above) asked what was the National Forest Act (NFA) classification for the remaining 84 percent of “permanent reserve forests” in Ulu Muda totalling 89,393ha.

"Has Kedah classified any areas in Ulu Muda as 'timber production forests' under the NFA? If so, how has Kedah banned logging in Ulu Muda?" he asked in a statement today.

Jaseni was referring to online posts by the Friends of Ulu Muda and WWF-Malaysia that the Ulu Muda Forest covers a total area of about 160,000ha.

According to the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources, Kedah gazetted 106,418ha of Ulu Muda as permanent reserve forests as at July 1.

"But what is the status of the other 53,582ha?" Jaseni asked.

He said Perlis, Kedah and Penang are highly dependent on Ulu Muda as their regional water catchment area.

"Let there be no doubt that any timber production in Ulu Muda will adversely affect water supply services, not only in Kedah but in three states," he said

Jaseni cited the July 1 parliamentary disclosure, which stressed the importance of properly defining the status of Ulu Muda and protecting it effectively.

He emphasised that Ulu Muda is the “Northern Region Water Catchment Area” and not merely permanent reserve forests in Kedah.

Jaseni urged the authorities to conserve Ulu Muda as a regional water catchment area, pointing out that this should be prioritised as a critical raw water management issue and not a forestry issue.

He cautioned that the status of Ulu Muda has a direct bearing on water supply sustainability for the three states.

"As such, Ulu Muda must be regarded as a national asset that requires care and protection by the federal government," he said.

Jaseni said the rainforests in Ulu Muda should be classified as “Forests for Federal Purposes” under the Section 10(1) of the NFA and the federal government must move to ensure that Ulu Muda is not destroyed.

"In order to sustainably conserve Ulu Muda legally, physically and in perpetuity, the federal government must compensate Kedah in a fair manner.

"Ulu Muda must be conserved properly, totally and immediately, not only for the birds and the trees but for the well-being of 4.2 million Malaysians, their children and grandchildren," Jaseni added.

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