Why is the Ulu Muda water catchment area so important? Because it supplies 80 per cent of Penang’s water requirements, 96 per cent of Kedah’s and 50 per cent of Perlis’.

The Muda River basin has four major dams: the Muda Dam, the Pedu Dam, the Ahning Dam and the Beris Dam. The reservoir of the Muda Dam, which has a catchment area covering 98,400ha, stores most of the basin runoff and then channels this to the Pedu Dam.

The Muda, Pedu and Ahning dams come under the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) whereas the Berish Dam is under the Drainage and Irrigation Department.

The catchment area for these four dams have been gazetted by the Kedah state government into five permanent reserved forests under the National Forestry Act 1984.

Unfortunately, designating an area as a ‘reserved forest’ does not offer much protection as it merely means the area has been reserved for future logging! In fact, 64.5 per cent of the area of these five reserved forests have been gazetted for timber production and only 32.3 per cent for water catchment, with the remainder being for research, education and recreation.

Check out the satellite images below, analysed by Penang Forum, from 2011 to 2016 to see the damage being done. (Actually, logging in this area was first detected by Mada scientists in the 1980s).

The deforestation has affected the quality and quantity of water stored, making it more expensive to treat the water.

These areas need to be protected under other classifications such as conservation forest, water catchment, recreational forest or protected forest for wildlife.

In fact, PBA wants Kedah to ban all logging in Ulu Muda and to gazette the entire area as a water catchment area. It also wants the federal government to compensate Kedah for the loss.

Meanwhile, a group of young students who visited the Ulu Muda rainforest and are concerned about the rare wildlife under threat have written this letter:

Please help us protect the Ulu Muda rainforest in Kedah

We are writing to express our concerns for the Ulu Muda rainforest that is currently under risk due to devastating logging activities next to Muda River. We want to share our experience of visiting this special, and one-of-a-kind forest that is a jewel of Kedah and something that Malaysia can be very proud to have, to ask for your help in protecting Kedah’s heritage and the biodiversity.

We are students who live in north Malaysia and were introduced to Ulu Muda through a unique programme where we bring groups of other students to experience this incredible forest. We call our project GreenSmiths, and our mission is to develop the leadership of young Malaysians through developing eco-engineering solutions and stewardship towards our earth.

Ultimately, we believe young Malaysians will seek to benefit their communities ways of living by continuously rethinking the way that we live with the Earth, developing solutions for the benefit of the current and future generation!

Recently we brought two groups of inspiring students from the government schools, SMK Bukit Selambau and SMK Tunku Sulong, to the rainforest, where they created videos documenting this rare, beautiful environment. They wanted to share the stories and images of the incredible range of animals and wildlife. They were lucky enough to even witness a whole herd of elephants including young calves – this is incredible!

Places like these are quickly disappearing globally, but we believe Ulu Muda can be preserved and become one of the best preserved original rainforests in the world. The students were amazing: they interviewed local boatmen and took videos and images of the wildlife. Many of them said they wanted to keep this for own children to see in the future, and want to bring other students to experience this amazing forest.

We recognise that climate change, water shortages, pollution, the need for a total revolution in food production, and a lack of sustainability are all serious risks to humanity. We also recognise these issues are complicated – but we believe strongly that together with the amazing local people who live around the forest, and with all Malaysians working together to protect their unique landscapes and environments, we could have something that people all over the world would be envious of: a truly untouched area of forest.

And who knows? There are undiscovered species and potential cures for diseases hidden in these forests. Let’s look to the future!

Please could you help us? We have heard there is serious logging right next to the water catchment area which poses are serious risk to health through water contamination, but also means that this beautiful area that is unique could be destroyed – and our children may never get to experience it.

We also want to thank you as we know there has previously been support and help from members of the Council in Kedah: we believe you care greatly for the people and communities and want the best for a state known for its incredible beauty across the whole of Malaysia.

We would be very happy to bring those who are not familiar to the forest to come and see for themselves the incredible wildlife that exists, and why preserving it for future generations is so important for all Malaysia, but also for humanity. Please join us in protecting Ulu Muda!

Yours truly

GreenSmiths Committee
Yue Shern, Song, Jon, Jaslyn, Kathryn

Wonderful to see young people so concerned about the environment. That shows us there is still hope to stop the deforestation and restore what has been lost.

Please help to support this blog if you can.

15 COMMENTS

  1. The majority of forest fires in South-east Asia occurs in states that produce oil palm, according to Global Forest Watch. Forests are cleared to make way for oil palm plantations. To save on clearing costs, farmers resort to burning.

    While frameworks to stop haze are being established at the regional level as well as in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, the challenge remains to get on board the actors who currently benefit from drained peatlands — the farmers, companies and investors profiting from oil palm.

    Could a long-term solution to preventing forest fires in the region lie in promoting alternative commodities that can grow in wet peatlands?

    http://m.todayonline.com/commentary/finding-oil-palm-alternative-could-be-key-haze-issue

    There is need for more research and institutional support in improving the desirability of producing alternative commodities, in both the demand and supply side. These need to be considered in developing and implementing long-term rehabilitation plans.

  2. Ulu Muda wildlife under threat

    PETALING JAYA: The Ulu Muda Reserve in Kedah, which is already facing risk as a water catchment area, is in danger of having its wildlife poached.

    Poachers and hunters from as far as Laos and Myanmar have been detected in the forest, which is one of two places in Peninsular Malaysia where the spotted leo­pard is found.

    Researchers from the Wildlife Con­­servation Research Unit (WildCRU) from Oxford University have found evidence of poaching during their recent 18-month study on the population of clouded leo­pards in the area.

    In an open letter urging the Kedah government to accord official protection to the area, WildCRU said its researchers had encountered multiple signs of illegal poaching and harvesting activities.

    “In total, we found 20 gun shells and probably, six to seven felled agarwood trees.

    “Our camera traps have revealed multiple detections of people from Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, armed with harvesting and hunting tools,” it said.

    Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/08/ulu-muda-wildlife-under-threat-poachers-from-as-far-as-laos-and-myanmar-detected-in-forest-reserve/#G2J487vUiM4xsXKx.99

  3. ALERT Readers : Bayan Baru in the vicinity of Spice now influx of ~15k mostly India nationals attending MLM multilevel marketing event. Traffic can be chaotic with hundreds of buses occupying side lanes. Your regular food hotel outlets may ignore you to entertain these attendees with cash rewards to spend.
    Next weekend expect influx of China Nationals attending another MLM event. SPSetia is laughing all the way, and we hope official opening of Spice Convention Centre will provide us with lavish buffet to thank the residents for tolerating any inconveniences caused by conventions.
    Anil, for sure Mdm Preeya Indian food outlet can finally make a fortune these few days to sustain its business at Spice.

  4. The rainforest was a domain for the peaceful inhabitants created by God long, long ago before Man walked the forests in search of apple of knowledge. It was a sanctuary of mutual co-existence among flora & fauna, rivers, waterfalls & landscapes, spirits & entities.
    Came Man & the balance of mutual co-existence was disturbed, disrupted & changed for the worst as we witnessed today. Nature strikes back & Man suffers, notwithstanding the daily worshipping of Almighty in different forms. Asking for the Grace of God in the face of calamities? Who is the culprit without shame whom God knows for sure?
    I have doubts of the Holy Book which put Man on the higher pedestal of stewardship & domain over all living things & nature (without fear nor responsibility?). Knowing the nature of mankind, God would have made a serious mistake of bestowing Man with authorities over Nature & all that live in it. I have doubts because the Holy Book was & still is interpreted by Man, & knowing the nature of mankind, this was a way to enforce authority of Man over nature irrespective of the ill-intentions to destroy what was before mankind walked the earth.
    No wonder till today, Man is ‘stranded’ on Mother Earth to forever learn the mistakes of stewardship & domain over Nature supposedly or mistakenly given to Man in the name of God Almighty. Mars, we can dream on till our universe is finally sucked into the infinite Black Hole.

    I fear the rainforest b’cos I have respect for every living thing in that domain.
    Seek out the Orang Bunian for intimate knowledge of Nature & you will be humbled.

    • How about those rainforest cleared for oil palm plantation by Felda? The European authorities deem palm oil as non sustainable because of this?

      • To counter the impact of unsustainable palm oil production, such as deforestation and habitat degradation, particularly in South-East Asia, the EU is introducing a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market.

    • Humans called aborigines have been in various types of biomes including forests for tens of thousands of years. Contrary to the propaganda blaming forest destruction on them, they and other rural inhabitants given rights and responsibilities are its best protectors (World Resources Institute USA and Rights & Resources Initiative USA meta-study “Securing rights, combating climate change,” 2014). It is only with the intrusion of modern believers of the religion of “cepat kaya” aka. capitalism aka. beggar-thy-neighbour that we began accepting this madness of digging our own graves as normal behaviour.

    • The European Parliament has agreed on a new palm oil resolution, which when enforced in 2020, would eliminate the use of palm methyl ester in biofuels. The new resolution seeks to exclude certifications from Malaysia and Indonesia, inevitably curbing palm oil usage.

      Our Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said he was very disappointed with the decision. Mah said Malaysia and Indonesia will jointly leverage on the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) to neutralise barriers to palm oil trade.

  5. No joking matter. Penangites enjoy cheaper water (not considering indah water) so conserve don’t overuse.
    Wash and wipe your own cars, don’t send to car wash services truly waste a lot of precious water.
    If there is water crisis, all of you cannot do that Margie joyful dance but do the Margie Prayer instead.

  6. Thank you ..Mr Anil…
    for highlighting the above…. (illegal deforestation)
    Government should by now realised the Importance keeping water catchment intact.
    before it too late….

  7. Daily TV news on many channeIs shows that our region has among the most reliable patterns of rainfall in the world. Yet, overly clever people have managed to create water shortages, in some cases by inaction on poisoned water. Once the precious soil is washed off, no amount of rain will help.

    The various forms of double-think about capitalist destruction and climate change, nurtured by propaganda, include (1) it is taking place far away (2) it is questionable science (3) the wise masters know what to do (4) it is about saving some animal, plant or “the Earth”. Led by fascists including get-rich-quick plutocrats, humanity is sleep-walking into a future of extreme climate change of all sorts, that will wipe out a large proportion of us in horrifying ways. The sense of hubris of these “movers and shakers” is no different from what the dinosaurs may have felt long ago. Some of them actually think they can escape to Mars or outer space.

  8. WOW!!! These youngsters truly love nature. Understand what is going on, care for animals, humanity and Malaysia!!! Many can learn from this group of young people.
    Would love to go and meet them, Damien you like to join??? The concern of this group give you wings and the blues…

    Something needs to be done again…to protect Nature. We can live without the neighbour but we cant live without water…
    and trees!!! EarthAlarm…!!!

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