Malaysia: Illegal logging detected near national park

The Star 30 Nov 14;

KUCHING: Illegal logging has been detected near Kubah National Park, which is one of the most popular natural attractions in Sarawak, just 20km west of the city centre.

The state Forest Department, which launched an aerial reconnaissance of the park and nearby areas last Thursday, sighted mud roads leading from an oil palm estate into an area that had been proposed as an extension to Kubah.

Aerial photographs showed a portion of the park filled with logs and machinery.

The check was done after a tip-off from villagers in the Matang area.

Department director Sapuan Ahmad, when contacted, confirmed illegal logging activity there.

Officials were sent to the site that day and managed to seize 277 logs from areas outside the boundary of the licensed oil palm estate, he said in a statement.

He also confirmed the logs were found within the proposed extension area.

However, the department is withholding the name of the company pending an investigation.

“Our operation was successful in seizing logs and machinery, which we believed were used for the illegal activity. The estimated value of seized items is roughly RM375,000,” Sapuan said.

He said the state Forest Department would be conducting more surprise checks.

“We will continue to conduct checks from the land and air. We also would like to thank the public who have come forward with information,” Sapuan said.

Kubah, known for its exceptionally rich plant life, was established in 1989 and opened to the public in 1995.

The 2,230ha park comprises forested slopes and portions of the Serapi range. The peak of Gunung Serapi, at over 900m, is among the tallest mountains in southern Sarawak.

The national park gained global attention early this year when an Australian won an online competition on the “Most Beautiful Sound in the World” based on his audio clip of life in the park titled Dusk by the Frog Pond.

“Kubah at dusk, between 5pm and 7pm, is one of the most magical places on the planet,” the winner Marc Anderson reportedly said.