Thursday, May 23, 2013

Are We Jeapordising Our Future for Short Term Gains?

Clearing in Kelantan - Borneo Post

With increasing frequency, newspapers are reporting on Malaysia’s forest being cleared.  Most of these forests are identified as water catchment forests, protecting vital water resources for millions of people.  Furthermore, the water and other services these forests provide, free of charge, provide the critical backbone for the nation’s economy.
Areas highlighted include five hills between Kuala Krai and Gua Musang in Kelantan, Ulu Muda in Kedah, and most recently over 40ha of land spread over four valleys and hills have been stripped of forests in less than a month, for vegetable farming in Cameron Highlands.    And let’s not forget the on-going concern for Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor, with a probable 24km expressway being built through its catchment forest.
Only some of this clearing  may be illegal.  Much of it has been confirmed, by the relevant state authorities, as legal forest clearings! 
Are we throwing it all away?
Legal or illegal, it  all begs the question.  These forests are all important water catchment areas.   With our growing population and the unpredictable consequences of climate change, we should be taking much better care of our precious water resources.
Other countries have found real cost savings by protecting water catchment forests, in both the amount of water and quality of water the forests protect. 
Water security is an issue that is not merely important at the local or state level but also at the national level.  Leadership by example is critical.  Federal government should be compensating states for conserving forests that protect water resources.  States should be prioritising long-term gains of water protection over short term gains of logging or transportation.

(If you want to be depressed, read more on the forest clearings here:)