PETALING JAYA – Environmentalists call for amendments to existing forestry law, claiming that logging caused the massive landslides in the country and the floods that erupted last month.
Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil suggested that the government amend or improve Act 313, National Forestry Act 1984 (Act 313), immediately to protect the Pertubuhan Peka against environmental criminals.
She said that the Act needs to be updated and standardised to ensure fair protection. This includes safekeeping the country’s natural resources, as well as increasing fines and jail sentences for wrongdoers.
Shariffa also recommended that illegal logging and mining be stopped as soon possible, as it could have devastating consequences.
All mining permits currently in use and similar activities must be cancelled immediately.
She said yesterday that even with all the preparations to restore the area to its natural state, there is still a high risk of destruction from a natural disaster.
Images of muddy rivers and logjams in states such as Pahang, allegedly caused by deforestation, have been the subject of public discontent. Satellite images of land clearing were also shared.
After allegations that logging was the cause, the Pahang Forestry Department denied that there had been any logging in the Lentang Forest Reserve, state land, and other land near Jalan Bentong Karak, on December 30, last year.
Shariffa stated that drainage must be improved in order to combat the worsening effects from climate change. He also recommended that flood mitigation infrastructure be constructed to prevent flooding from happening.
The environmental group also stated that it was essential to provide education on the importance and value of the natural environment at all levels of institutions.
Prof. Ahmad Ismail, president of the Malaysian Nature Society, said that heavy rain is only one factor that contributes to floods.
The area, type and amount of rainfall will have an impact on the impact.
Heavy rain can cause more damage. He said that rainwater without trees may flow down the slope more quickly than muddy water.
Tree cutting, he stated, not only causes natural disasters like flash floods and floods but also contributes to the loss and destruction of biodiversity.
Prof Ahmad pointed out that logs may be found in flood-stricken regions. He also suggested that the source of this timber should be investigated.
Based on public observation of the flood event, we need further investigation. We also need to share with the public the reasons logs were washed downstream in the river and floating to houses, as shown via social media.
Aidil Iman Aidid (22-year-old youth environmental activist) said that the public can play an important role in protecting the environment by monitoring illegal logging, and deforestation.
These crimes can be reported to forestry department, but it is important to remain vigilant and vocal in opposition to unsustainable legal proposals, he stated.
Aidil also demanded that authorities be held accountable, as these are the core of any environmental governance.