Malaysia: Unfettered logging threatening villagers' survival

BERNAMA New Straits Times 11 Apr 16;

JERANTUT: Greedy and unscrupulous loggers have been stealing from the Gunung Dulang and Gunung Ais range for the past 10 years, and today over 500 villagers are paying for it.

The people of Kampung Mat Daling have now lost their source of clean and free water supply due to the drying up of catchments from the overzealous logging.

Jungle animals have also been wreaking havoc in the village after their home and food source were destroyed by the rampant deforestation taking place.

In addition to that, many villagers also lost their source of income, due to decreasing depth of the surrounding rivers.


Kampung Mat Daling is situated at the upper reaches of Sungai Tembeling, near the Pahang-Terengganu border.

There is no easy access into or exit from the village, due to its very remote location. The villagers, therefore, relied very much on their surroundings as the source of sustenance.

Life was not that easy, but at least they had access to clean and free water. That was until the rampant deforestation took place.

The two mountains ravaged by loggers have been supplying water to the catchment area in Sungai Kancing, Sungai Rambai and Sungai Tembeling. These have been the sources of water supply for the people of Kampung Mat Daling.

Its village head Wan Maba Wan Zakaria, 63, said the villagers have been put through a number of difficulties ever since the logging activities started a decade ago.

“We used to be able to get clean water supply from Bukit Rambai, but the catchment soon dried up (due to the massive logging in the area). We then turned to Bukit Kancing for water supply, but now even the catchment in the area cannot meet our needs. We have no choice now but to depend on the supply by PAIP (Pengurusan Air Pahang Berhad),” said Wan Maba to the press when met during a survey of the area by Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (PEKA) recently.

It is learned that there has been disruption in the water supply from PAIP from time to time, due to the excessive sedimentation in water sources resulting from logging activities.


He said the villagers used to grow food crops for survival, but today they were finding it harder to do so. Wild boars and macaques would ravage their small farms for food as the loggers have destroyed the animals’ food source and habitat.

A villager, Wan Baharuddin Wan Abdul Raffar, said the unrestricted logging had not only affected the village’s water source but also his income as a boatmaker.

“I’ve been making boats since 1974 and I used to get seven to eight orders every year. I could sell them for between RM8,000 to RM10,000 each.

“However, the river access to Kampung Mat Daling has been getting shallower. Boats are no longer able to traverse the river to get to the village.

This has caused a drop in demand for boats and so we have lost a source of income,” said the 62-year-old.

There were eight boatmakers in the village who now had to turn to rubber tapping for a living, despite the low wage and uncertain price of the commodity in the market.

“We used to be able to make a decent living making boats and were able to go to Jerantut town nearly every week to buy our needs. Today, it has become painfully difficult to go out, even if for just once a month,” he said.


It is not only rare species of trees that have become threatened and extinct with deforestation.

Rare fish species like kelah, sebarau, krai and lampam are now also no longer seen in Sungai Kancing and Sungai Kebir, once a source of income for the villagers and a haven for anglers.

Zakaria Serahan, 37, said the river water have become increasingly shallower and have even dried up in some areas, causing the fish to swim upstream in search of unpolluted water.

“The youths of the village used to bring in avid anglers as fishing was one of the villagers’ means of income. Some 20 anglers would come in monthly, bringing in at least RM2,000 a month to fishing boat operators.

“However, due to the logging activities, the fish population have become nearly extinct and that in turn reduces the number of anglers. The youths are now forced to migrate to the cities to support their families,” he lamented.

Today, anglers who come to fish would have to be brought over to Lubuk Palas, located several hours away from Kampung Mat Daling.

Meanwhile, PEKA president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil urged the government to not take lightly crimes against the environment such unrestricted and unmonitored logging.

She also called on for tighter acts and better enforcement so that loggers with permits would think twice about going into restricted areas.

“The government must study the present acts and set new terms such as making it compulsory to replant with new trees for every tree felled.

“If we don’t do this, what of these natural treasures are we leaving for the coming generations? Where would these animals, whose homes have been the forests, go?” --BERNAMA

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