Malaysia: Over half of Kedah’s forest reserves can be logged

Embun Majid The Star 5 Feb 14;

ALOR SETAR: More than half of Kedah’s 300,000ha forest reserves is suitable for logging activities, said state Forestry Department director Ku Azmi Ku Azman.

He said 180,000ha can be gazetted as production forest and allowed to be logged while the rest would be gazetted as protected forest.

Of the area – almost six times the size of Penang island – 80% is secondary forest.

Ku Azmi said some of these areas had already been logged between 30 and 35 years ago.

He said the size may seem huge but the concessionaries would only practise selective logging and replanting of the area.

He added that the size was only an estimate as the state government would need to provide a feedback on the matter.

“A logged area cannot be touched for between 30 and 35 years to allow the replanted trees to grow.

“The protest on several logging areas during the Pakatan Rakyat era was due to no clear indicators on the status of the logged land.

“Since Barisan Nasional took over the state administration last year, no new logging licences have been issued except for those already approved by the previous government,” he said, adding that the department had completed a detailed study on the matter including a new guideline on logging in the state and would submit the report to Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir today.

On the allegation of rampant logging activities near the Pedu water catchment area, Ku Azmi said the logging tender was approved during the Pakatan era.

Also present were state Local Government, Water Supply, Water Resources and Energy, Housing and Human Capital Committee chairman Badrol Hisham Hashim and Pedu assemblyman Kama Noriah Ibrahim. Badrol Hisham said the department would hold a special briefing for villagers in the Pedu and Kuala Nerang areas about logging activities being carried out there. He said the briefing was to clear any misconception about logging activities that were highlighted by several Opposition blogs.

He added concessionaries had their permits approved by the previous state government.