The Ulu Muda Rainforest is a natural heritage of 150 -170 million years rainforest located at the north-eastern corner of State of Kedah, bordering Thailand. The size of the Ulu Muda Rainforest is about twice the size of Singapore. It encompassed of Ulu Muda Forest Reserve and Pedu Forest Reserve also where 3 important lakes and dams which are Pedu Dam, Muda Dam and Ahning Dam. These 3 dams are fully responsible in providing the irrigation water to increase the paddy production for the needs of the country. Ulu Muda Rainforest used to have high biodiversity and consists of high- quality logs such as meranti, cengal and merbau due to low rates of poaching and human intrusion.
However, the forest has been rampantly cleared out with the illegal logging activity. The inhuman activity has deteriorates the forest ecosystem. The role of Ulu Muda as water catchment has been threatened in terms of water quality and volume output. Logging activity will increase the rate of run-off soil into the river which will cause the river filled with sedimentation. The water will turns murky and requires extensive water treatment which is costly.
Apart from that, long run uncontrolled logging will disrupt the forest’s ability to absorb and retain rainwater which could result in severe flash floods and droughts. The forest controls the flow of water over the land. During heavy precipitation, the trees help trap the water in the soil. They hold water in their branches, trunks, roots and leaves thus minimizing the risks of potent flash flood and massive landslides to occur at certain point.
Deforestation might as well increase the potential of long dry spell to
occur in Malaysia. Some scientists postulate that we have cut so many forests that we might have reached a situation where severe drought is not only widespread but inevitable. The forest provides moisture for the formation of clouds. However, as the forest is cleared, the rain decreases at a faster rate, leading to longer droughts and higher temperatures. The longer droughts lead to longer and hotter fires, which will cause the forests to catch fire easily.
Illegal and uncontrolled logging in Ulu Muda Forest Reserve should be stopped immediately to prevent any bad consequences to occur in the near future and to preserve the vital water catchment and its rich biodiversity. About 4 million people in 3 states, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Pinang are fully relied on this water catchment for their raw water supply. The river in Ulu Muda Forest Reserve was used by the villagers living in the foot hills of Bukit Enggang for their daily use. If the illegal logging still persistent 4 million people will face a serious disruption of clean water supply.
The state government should take serious action on this matter. The illegal logging in Ulu Muda Forest Reserve has prolonged for few years but yet until now the loggers are still violently clearing out the forest.
Nur Imani Binti Abdullah
Forum Air Malaysia