Monday, June 29, 2009

Chopped down in the name of reforestation

Reforestation by planting rubber trees? C'mon this is called rubber plantation ok! Harvesting forest reserve for timber then planting rubber trees....this is what we called agriculture but not reforestation. Play dumb to "sapu" our natural heritage?

-------Read the report from Star---------

June 29, 2009
Chopped down in the name of reforestation

THE Sungai Jelok Forest Reserve in Selangor has been pillaged under the guise of reforestation and little is now left of the undulating expanse of greenery previously visible from parts of Kajang.

The obvious question is why did the previous state government gazette an area as a permanent forest reserve, only to later allow it to be violated under the excuse of harvesting the timber?

A sizeable 200ha of the 250ha forest reserve has been cleared and its precious resource of timber carted away to enrich the coffers of a few. Rubber timber clone saplings have been planted to yield another round of timber in seven years.

An area gazetted as a permanent forest reserve cannot be logged while those designated as forest reserves can have their land use changed to allow for agricultural activities or even logging.

In March, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman and Kajang assemblyman Lee Kim Sin acted on a tip-off and visited the forest reserve located in the lush Hulu Langat district.

“By the time a full report was recently presented to the committee, the damage to the forest reserve was sadly beyond repair and it is contributing to the floods in Kajang.

“We are now asking the state government to terminate the agreements so the forest reserve can serve its purpose and be preserved for posterity,” he said.

As we stood in a clearing on June 24, surrounded by logs and bare terraced slopes, the drone of a chainsaw was heard in the distance.

“We are upstream and the river running below us is murky, evidence of hill clearing. The logging company has retained a narrow line of trees for the so-called buffer but this is barely sufficient to support the eco-system,” Lee said.

The report states that logging permits were issued to two private companies by the Selangor Forestry Department for a rubber estate project by the Perbadanan Kemajuan Pertanian Selangor (PKPS).

According to the report, a 25-year lease was given to two private companies to log a total of 200ha at the forest reserve. The green light was given at the state executive council meeting on May 10, 2007, and the agreements signed on July 27 of that year.

The agreement was signed based on the National Forestry Act of 1984 (Act 313) under Section 4, stating that the Forestry Director has the power “to implement forest management plans and reforestation plans”. Section 14 states that “all resources from a permanent forest reserve belong to the state”.

Lee said these loopholes had been exploited by the parties involved to further their own interests.

“Furthermore, the report reveals that both companies will pay PKPS RM15 per ha annually for the lease from Year One to 10 and RM25 per ha annually from Year 11 to 25, totalling RM105,000. The land premium to be paid is RM600 per ha, totalling RM120,000 and the land use permit is RM50,000 annually,” Lee said.

“Only 4% of the profit will be channelled back to the state government so exploitation is pretty evident.

“Moreover, a forest reserve rich with many species of trees is making way for an artificial forest, replanted with single species clones. Where is the biodiversity to ensure the survival of birds and wildlife?” he asked.

For the record, the Sungai Jelok Forest Reserve is a hilly lowland dipterocarp forest and functions as a water catchment area for Sungai Jelok, a tributary of Sungai Langat.

The question remains whether the forest reserve will be sacrificed further and left as an ugly legacy for future generations.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

National Shame - Curi in Sabah

June 15, 2009
Sabah Government silent over Tawau coral reefs mining incident – another ‘national shame’!

The Sabah Government,under the leadership of Datuk Musa Aman should be put under a microscope for being silent over the coral reef mining in Tawau,Sabah which is a "national shame".The Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission must investigate,expose and prosecute these "day light robbers"of our national treasures and heritage.

IT’S RATHER sad and ashamed that just when the Sabah State Government is passionately encouraging Malaysians as well as people from all over the world to vote in one of our tourism icons - Sipadan Island, as one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature(pic), a group of unscrupulous Malaysians was busy mining coral reefs in Tawau.

This was reported in the Malaysiakini on Sunday, 14 June, 2009.Two(2)days have since passed,and no official statement has been issued by the State Government.Was it because this significant finding was exposed by the opposition or was it a "trivial matter',that didn't warrant public attention?Why is the State Government silent over this matter? Kudos to Tawau PKR Chief Datuk Kong Hong Ming(pic) and his source for exposing such a horrendous crime on nature and humanity. Had not for their courage in exposing this, the devastating destruction of our precious coral reefs in Tawau could still be continued.

What was mind-boggling was that such activities had been carried out right under the noses of the relevant authorities undetected for the past one decade.Surely the State Government with all it's ears and eyes on the ground,logistics and enforcement,can't be deaf,dumb or blind. I believe the relevant authorities have lots of explaining to do here especially if the claim by Kong that a report had been lodged by his source to the Environmental Protection Department in Tawau earlier, was true.Suffice it to say,that our politicians have the tendency to think and convinced themselves that we the rakyat are indeed morons.

I strongly urge the State Government and the relevant authorities to spare no effort and leave no stone unturned in investigating the matter and to take sternest action against the culprits as well as those who were in cahoots, regardless of who they are, even if it involves some very senior government officers or politicians. A clear and strong message must be sent to would-be perpetrators.

Failing which, I guess we would then loss whatever moral grounds there is to continue to ask people to vote in Sipadan as one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature since we failed to protect those coral reefs in Tawau which size of affected area is several hundred times larger than the one in Sipadan that was damaged by a steel barge in 2006, especially if the claim that the mining area about nine kilometres from the shore would encompass five acres.(picture left showing coral debris found at the processing site)

I wonder what’s the estimated cost of losses that incurred based on the economic value of the coral reefs that were destroyed by the unscrupulous miners?

Coral reefs are a valuable ecological and economic resource in Malaysia, estimated to worth some US$635 million (RM2.2 billion) per year, mainly from tourism and fisheries revenues, not taking into account of shoreline protection and their research potential.

And I hope our State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjuntoo would give his full and serious attention in investigating the matter and to give the people of Sabah a truthful explanation on what was going on that led to such a devastating incident that fit to be called a ‘national shame’.

Lets hope this time the State government would not attempt to hush-hush the issue like what it did with the Sipadan barge incident three years ago, where it was reliably learnt that the contractor involved, Kumpulan Surati Sdn Bhd was left off the hook with just a public apology and bearing the clean-up cost.

I also call on NGOs like Sabah Environment Protection Association (SEPA) to closely monitor the issue and to put pressure on the State Government to better protect our precious natural resources.

It’s rather unfortunate that once again, Malaysia, Sabah in particular is in the international limelight for the wrong reason.

Dead fish float on the once pristine Sungai Dura

June 16, 2009

KUALA TERENGGANU: Sungai Dura, a source of water for 800 villagers from Kampung Pueh, was contaminated by palm oil effluent a few days ago and is in danger of dying.

Dead fish and prawns are floating on the once crystal-clear waters now covered with a coat of sticky substance.

A sickening stench is pervasive.

Terengganu’s Department of Environment (DOE) director Rusli Che Husin said the river was polluted after a direct flow of effluent from the palm oil plant’s pipeline into the river in Hulu Terengganu, about 87km from here.

“We have sent a team of officers to monitor the water quality daily and send back the reports to the department here,” he said when contacted by The Star, Tuesday.

He said the situation was not critical but the water quality could deteriorate if the river was not urgently rehabilitated.

“We are doing our best to save the river as the leakage was considered unintentional as the plant was undergoing restoration work when the incident occurred a few days ago,” he said.

The department had questioned the mill’s owner and was investigating to see if punitive action needed to be taken against the polluter.

Kampung Pueh villager Azman Che Jusoh, 33, from said villagers had no choice but to turn to artesian wells for water.

“We hope the authorities do something about reviving the river before it is totally dead, he said.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Penang to go green every Monday starting next month

June 5, 2009

GEORGE TOWN: Penang will make every Monday a “No plastic bag day” from next month in a bid to become the country’s first ‘green’ state.

It is learnt that shoppers who do not bring their own reusable bags will be charged 20 sen for each plastic bag when making purchases from shopping complexes and hypermarkets.

The money collected from the sale of plastic bags will go to the fund to help the state’s hardcore poor, a state government source said.

State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said shopping complexes and hypermarkets have agreed to the state government’s initiative but there must be wide publicity to make it a success.

The state had distributed declaration forms to shopping complexes and hypermarkets to secure their commitment to the “No plastic bag day”, he told reporters after chairing a meeting with some 20 shopping centre representatives.

Phee said the first batch of “No plastic bag day” posters would be handed out to shopping centres a week before the end of the month.

Among the issues raised during the meeting were the high cost of giving out eco-bags and whether it was appropriate to use them for fresh produce.