SAM: Hentikan pemusnahan tanah gambut di Sarawak

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Tanah gambut yang dulu menjadi simpanan karbon kini bila dimusnahkan merupakan sumber karbon terlepas ke atmosfera, kata Sahabat Alam Malaysia.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) menggesa kerajaan Sarawak menghentikan pembangunan di kawasan tanah gambut di negeri itu.

Antara pembangunan yang sedang berjalan kini ialah konsesi BLD Plantation Berhad di Utara Sibu. Analisis imej satelit yang dilakukan oleh Friends of Orangutans (Foto) menunjukkan antara Jun dan September 2015, BLD telah membersihkan secara purata 11 hektar sehari.

Pembangunan dan penanaman berskala besar di atas tanah gambut terus memusnahkan sumber hutan paya gambut tropika dan fungsi semula jadinya. Sarawak mempunyai kira-kira 1.6 juta hektar tanah gambut. Menjelang awal 2000-an, negeri ini sudah pun kehilangan kira-kira 100,000 hektar tanah gambut kepada ladang kelapa sawit.

Menurut Deltares, sebuah institut penyelidikan, kurang daripada 16 peratus daripada hutan paya gambut semula jadi Sarawak yang masih kekal. Dari tahun 2000 hingga 2014, liputan ladang kelapa sawit meningkat dari 6 peratus kepada 47 peratus, manakala kawasan hutan paya gambut merosot daripada 56 peratus kepada kurang daripada 16 peratus. Kawasan yang masih ada kebanyakannya telah disalirkan keluar airnya.

Di samping kaya dengan kepelbagaian-bio, tanah gambut tropika memainkan peranan penting di peringkat serantau dan tempatan dalam kitaran air, kestabilan iklim dan lanskap. Tanah gambut tropika mempunyai aras air bumi yang biasanya mengekalkan bahan organik daripada reput sepenuhnya dan hasilnya tanah ini menyimpan sejumlah besar karbon.

Tanah gambut juga bertindak sebagai span gergasi, menyerap air dan membantu untuk mitigasi banjir. Ketika musim kering, tanah gambut ini melepaskan air secara perlahan, maka menjadi sumber bekalan air bersih.

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Kebakaran hutan di tanah gambut juga semakin meningkat, dengan kesan bencana bagi kepelbagaian-bio dan iklim dunia di mana bahan organik yang terbakar melepaskan sejumlah besar karbon yang disimpan ke atmosfera.

Walaupun fungsinya penting, penebangan hutan tanah gambut untuk ditukarkan kepada pertanian dan ladang kayu masih berterusan dan ini melibatkan saliran intensif. Bila mengalami kemerosotan, tumbuh-tumbuhan dan gambut yang merupakan takungan karbon yang amat besar dan berkepekatan tinggi akan melepaskan gas rumah hijau.

Dengan demikian, tanah gambut yang dulu menjadi simpanan karbon kini bila dimusnahkan merupakan sumber karbon terlepas ke atmosfera.

Tanda-tanda pemanasan planet kini di sekeliling kita. Oleh itu kita perlu mengurangkan dengan drastik semua pengeluaran karbon dioksida dan gas rumah hijau lain yang disebabkan oleh manusia. Kerajaan mestilah komited kepada penebangan sifar dan mengekalkan semua hutan asli kita. Oleh itu kami menggesa kerajaan Sarawak dan Malaysia hentikan meluluskan penukaran guna tanah gambut.

Kekalkan karbon di dalam tanah.

SM Mohamed Idris ialah presiden Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)


Stop peatland destruction

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) calls on the Sarawak government to stop further development on peatlands in the state.

Among the ongoing development is BLD Plantation Berhad’s concession in the north of Sibu. Satellite image analysis performed by Friends of the Orangutans (Foto) showed that between June and September 2015 BLD had cleared an average of 11 hectares daily.

Large-scale development and cultivation on peatlands continue to damage tropical peat swamp forest  resources and natural functions. Sarawak had about 1.6m hectares of peatlands. By the early 2000s, the state had already lost about 100,000 hectares of peatlands to oil palm plantations.

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According to research institute Deltares, less than 16 per cent of Sarawak’s natural peat forests remains. From 2000 to 2014, the cover of industrial oil palm plantations increased from 6 per cent to 47 per cent, while the area of peat swamp forest decreased from 56 per cent to less than 16 per cent. The remaining area is also mostly drained.

Besides being rich in biodiversity, tropical peatlands play important roles regionally and locally in water cycle, climate and landscape stabilisation. Tropical peat soils have high water tables that normally keep organic materials from fully decomposing, and as a result these soils sequester large amounts of carbon.

Peatlands also act as giant sponges, soaking up water and helping to mitigate flooding. During the dry season, peat releases water slowly, hence becoming a source of fresh water supply.

Forest fires in peatlands are increasing in frequency and intensity, with disastrous consequences for biodiversity and the world’s climate whereby burning organic matter releases large amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere.

Despite the important functions, deforestation of peatland for conversion to agriculture and timber plantations still continues and these involve intensive drainage. Upon degradation, the vegetation and underlying peat, which constitute a large and highly concentrated carbon pool, will release greenhouse gases. As such, the peatlands, which were net carbon sinks, are now net carbon sources.

The signs of a warming planet are all around us. Thus we need to reduce drastically all human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The government must commit to zero deforestation and maintain all our natural forests. Hence we urge the government of Sarawak and Malaysia to stop approving conversion of peatlands.

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Keep the carbon in the ground.

SM Mohamed Idris is president of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth Malaysia).

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