Gesaan mewartakan segera Ulu Muda sebagai hutan tadahan air

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[ENGLISH VERSION BELOW] Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) dan Persatuan Pengguna Pulau Pinang (CAP) menggesa kerajaan negeri Kedah yang baharu dilantik untuk mewartakan dengan segera hutan simpan Ulu Muda sebagai hutan tadahan air dan melindunginya sebab fungsi penting hutan ini kepada masyarakat dan alam sekitar.

Kami juga menggesa kerajaan negeri supaya mengkaji semula dan membatalkan sebarang lesen pembalakan yang mungkin telah diluluskan oleh kerajaan sebelum ini dan menghentikan semua aktiviti dalam kawasan yang mengancam fungsi sokongan hayatnya.

Hutan simpan Ulu Muda dan hutan-hutan di sekelilingnya adalah amat penting untuk seluruh negara. Meliputi kawasan seluas 106,418 hektar (ha), hutan simpan Ulu Muda adalah kawasan tadahan air terbesar di wilayah utara, mengisi tiga empangan utama di Kedah iaitu Empangan Ahning, Empangan Muda dan Empangan Pedu.

Air mentah dari Ulu Muda juga mengalir melalui Sungai Muda ke Pulau Pinang. Liputan hutan di Ulu Muda ini amat kritikal dalam memenuhi keperluan air kira-kira 4.09 juta orang di negeri Perlis, Kedah dan Pulau Pinang.

Air mentah yang berasal dari Ulu Muda juga penting untuk tanaman dua kali di kawasan penanaman padi di Kedah, Perlis dan Pulau Pinang, yang merupakan Jelapang Padi Negara.

Hutan ini juga memainkan peranan utama sebagai ‘penyerap karbon’ yang amat kritikal bagi menangani perubahan iklim.

Di bawah kerajaan sebelum ini, pembalakan telah merosakkan kawasan hutan simpan Ulu Muda dan seharusnya tiada lagi pembalakan dibenarkan di kawasan ini termasuk aktiviti pengeluaran seperti perlombongan dan kuari.

Memandangkan kerajaan Pakatan Harapan (PH) dalam manifestonya berjanji untuk memulihara hutan kita, penting sekali untuk kerajaan negeri Kedah mengambil tindakan segera untuk melindungi hutan simpan Ulu Muda.

READ MORE:  Call for halt to logging in Ulu Muda permanent forest reserves in Kedah

Memandangkan kerajaan persekutuan juga di bawah PH, langkah mesti diambil untuk membayar pampasan kepada kerajaan negeri Kedah kerana menjaga hutan untuk kepentingan awam yang lebih besar, sebagai pertukaran bagi kehilangan hasil pendapatan daripada pembalakan atau aktiviti lain.

Terdapat dana yang boleh diperolehi di peringkat antarabangsa untuk melindungi hutan kita bagi tujuan menangani perubahan iklim dan memulihara biodiversiti, dan kerajaan persekutuan dan negeri mestilah mengambil peluang untuk memperolehi sumber ini.

Tiada lagi sebarang alasan untuk tidak mengambil tindakan dalam mewartakan hutan simpan Ulu Muda sebagai hutan tadahan air.

Bertindak sekarang dan selamatkan Ulu Muda!

SM Mohamed Idris ialah presiden Sahabat Alam Malaysia dan Persatuan Pengguna Pulau Pinang.

English version

Call to urgently gazette Ulu Muda as water catchment forests

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) call on the newly elected Kedah state government to urgently gazette the Ulu Muda forest reserve as water catchment forests and protect them for the vital functions these forests provide to society.

We also call on the state government to review and revoke any logging licences that may have been approved by the previous government and halt all such activities within the area which threaten its life-supporting functions.

The Ulu Muda forest reserve and surrounding forested areas (referred to as the Greater Ulu Muda Forest in brief) is of national importance. Covering a total land area of 106,418ha, the Ulu Muda forest reserve is the largest water catchment area in the northern region, filling the three major dams in Kedah – the Ahning Dam, the Muda Dam and the Pedu Dam.

READ MORE:  Call for halt to logging in Ulu Muda permanent forest reserves in Kedah

Raw water from Ulu Muda also flows through the Muda River to Penang. These forests are critical in meeting the water needs of Perlis, Kedah and Penang, and serving an estimated population of 4.09m people in three states.

The raw water originating from Ulu Muda is also essential for double cropping in the rice fields of Kedah, Perlis and Penang, which include the nation’s rice bowl.

The forests also play a major role as a ‘carbon sink’ critical for addressing climate change.

Under the previous government, logging has damaged areas in the Ulu Muda forest reserve, and there should be no logging at all permitted in the area, including extractive activities such as mining or quarrying.

Given that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in its manifesto has promised to conserve our forests, the Kedah state government must take urgent action to protect the Ulu Muda forest reserve.

As the federal government is also under PH, measures must be taken to compensate the Kedah state government for keeping its forests intact for the larger public good, in exchange for the loss of revenue from logging or other activities.

There are funds that are available internationally for the protection of our forests for the purpose of combatting climate change and conserving biodiversity, and the federal and state governments must avail themselves of these resources.

There should not be any more excuses to not take action in gazetting the Ulu Muda forest reserve as a water catchment forest.

Act now and save Ulu Muda!

SM Mohamed Idris is president of Sahabat Alam Malaysia and the Consumers’ Association of Penang.

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