Some background on the logging controversy in Kedah. This is one of those rare instances where I reproduce the whole article.

GREEN groups have always eyed so-called Reduced Impact Logging or RIL techniques with suspicion. Although they do incur less damage to forests then conventional logging methods, RIL methods such as skyline yarder, long haulage ground cable system and helicopter logging — which essentially lift felled trees from the forest floor instead of dragging them — have remained controversial.

There is a nagging fear that they may be misused to log areas inaccessible to bulldozers and tractors, thereby opening the most remote forests to loggers. Or they may be used to log ecologically-sensitive sites on the pretext that they cause little destruction.

In helicopter logging, felled trees are lifted from the forest floor, unlike conventional logging where bulldozers drag logs along skid trails to the main road, exposing huge tracts of soil and damaging surrounding trees.

And now, those fears have come true. Sarawak timber giant WTK Holdings Bhd plans to extend the use of helicopter logging (or heli-logging) to forests in Kedah — forests which are not only untouched, but designated as water catchments. WTK says heli-logging is the best option for the site as it is less destructive than conventional logging.

The Kedah Government has bought into that idea. Last March, it approved in principle heli-logging of 122,798ha of forests. Timber harvesting will stretch over 10 years in two phases in the project by WTK which holds a 80% stake and the Kedah Yayasan Islam, 20%.

Phase I covers 72,934ha of the Ulu Muda forest reserve. Phase II covers 49,864ha in six forest reserves: the Ulu Muda, Chebar Besar, Padang Terap, Pedu, Bukit Saiong and Bukit Keramat. A detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, but only on Phase I, is being reviewed by the Department of Environment (DOE).

If the project proceeds, much is at stake. These forests are gazetted as ”protection forests” because they function as the water catchment for three important dams: the Ahning, Pedu and Muda. Kedah, Perlis and Penang depend on these dams and their catchment for water, as do the 96,000ha Muda Irrigation Scheme, otherwise known as Kedah’s Rice Bowl.

”If trees are harvested, the catchment forest will no longer function as a source of water,” warns a forest botanist familiar with the project. ”The terrain is hilly and logging will lead to erosion and eventually, the dam may be silted up.”

Local folks are protesting too. ”Logging will threaten farming in the Muda area,” says padi farmer Ahmad Fadzil Mohammad, 52, of Kampung Padang Tui Air Hitam, near Alor Star. ”The dams may dry up. Once you cut the trees, there will be less water.” As it is, the Muda area has suffered water woes. Just last year, a water shortage prevented the double cropping which had made padi cultivation there a success.

”Even before logging, we already have water problems. After logging, it will be worse. Only the state will profit from the project. We, the farmers, will suffer,” says Ahmad.

He says many farmers are unaware of the project and its ecological consequences. ”We have formed a group to explain to people so that they will not be confused. They can then judge for themselves whether the project is good or bad.” About 10,000 farmers have supported a signature campaign protesting against the project.

What with Kedah being known as a ”water deficit” area, the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) says the important consideration here is to protect its water catchment. ”The loss of water due to logging will offset any economic benefits from logging,” says CAP president S.M. Idris. Furthermore, the Ulu Muda forest is one of the last tracts of remaining virgin forests in the country and is known to harbour rich wildlife.

Regrettably, these facts and the basic principle that the area is a gazetted catchment have been blatantly ignored. [Much to lose despite heli-logging. Tan Cheng Li. The Star. March 26 2003]


“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”

— Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower.

And I like this version:

Holy frak, we are all cylons!

Some rights reserved.

One Response to “[1695] Of none of them along the line know what any of it is worth”

  1. on 25 Jun 2008 at 22:06 the __earthinc » Blog Archive

    […] Menteri Besar himself, when he was in the opposition, opposed the helicopter harvesting when it was first proposed by the previous state administration back in 2003. Now, he holds a different position. Thus, […]

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