Rampant deforestation has posed serious threats on water supply, biodiversity, wildlife and water resources, besides causing soil erosion, sedimentation, slope failure and landslides across Kedah.
Kulim, Baling, Sik, Langkawi, Padang Terap and Kubang Pasu are six districts adversely affected by forest destruction and clearing for agricultural activities, and logging.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president S.M. Mohamed Idris noted that the water level at the Pedu Dam had dropped drastically during the drought earlier this year, and if the deforestation persisted, it could affect rice production, hence livelihood of MADA farmers.
He wants the Kedah government to immediately stop the destruction of forests and logging activities in the state to protect these natural resources and ensure sufficient water supply.
“We call on for an immediate halt of deforestation and logging activities,” he said today.
SAM objects to any new projects planned, including the proposed Naok Dam in Pendang and plantation and mining projects in Gunung Inas Forest Reserve in Kulim.
Idris said these projects would not only destroy the environment and watersheds but also affect agricultural production, life and livelihoods of people in three states, namely Kedah, Perlis and Penang.
“Construction of new dams is not a solution to water problems in the state.
“Forests and natural resources should be restored, protected and conserved for future generations,” he said.
The 2015 Annual Report of the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia states that the forested land area in Kedah covered 342,431 hectares or 36.33% of the total land area.
Kedah Forestry Department director said last February that more than 2,000 hectares of forest in the state’s forest reserves had been encroached and cleared for development of new agricultural areas.
“This indicates that the forest cover in the state is at an alarming rate and if further deforestation is not curbed it will lead to a more precarious situation,” said Idris.
SAM’s survey found that deforestation for plantation development and logging has seriously affected watersheds and villagers’ water supply has been contaminated with mud.
Villagers in Kampung Ulu Mahang in Kulim and Kampung Teluk Teduri in Baling are concerned that the community water supply sourced from the forest near their village will be affected by the destruction of the forests here.
SAM’s survey also found that the hills that were cleared have been left idle for long, triggering soil erosion when it rains, subsequently disrupting drainage systems.
Rivers in the state have also become shallow due to sedimentation.
Idris said SAM was disappointed that although the state’s water crisis was currently acute, but until now no effective measures and planning had been made by the government to address the issue.
In recent years frequent flash floods occurred at villages nearby logging areas, causing heavy losses to the residents whose belongings, properties and crops have been damaged.
“Apart from reducing the total forest area which threatens biodiversity and wildlife, deforestation also affects water resources and contributes to soil erosion, sedimentation, slope failure and landslides.
“In addition to threatening the environment and causing flash floods in several areas of the state, logging and land clearing has also affected the lives of thousands of water users including paddy farmers,” said Idris.