MEDIA RELEASE : BRUNO MANSER FONDS, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
17 February 2009
Unprecedented devastation caused by floods appears to be a consequence of logging and changed local climate patterns
Rural communities in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak are facing bleak days ahead as the recent floods have destroyed their padi fields shortly before harvest time. According to a report in The Borneo Post on 11 February 2009, indigenous communities from a number of longhouses in the Baram river region have lost almost their complete harvest.
“Only a couple of farmers who cultivated hill padi this year have survived the devastation”, a farmer from Long Ikan, one of the worst hit longhouses, said to The Borneo Post. “The rest of us saw our crops destroyed before our very eyes”. It is expected that the harvest losses will make a number of communities dependent on government aid.
While local politicians blame changing climate patterns for the floods, the overlogging of the rainforests appears to be a significant reason for the unprecedented devastation caused by the floods. Despite warnings from environmentalists and international scientists, less than ten percent of Sarawak’s primary forests have been spared from logging.
For over two decades, forestry policies under Sarawak’s Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud, have favoured the short-sighted depletion of the fragile tropical rainforest ecosystems without due importance being attached to the long-term environmental, social and economic consequences of logging.
Meanwhile, fish in Sarawak’s rivers are dying from siltation of the rivers, another consequence of the logging. Police officers from the Belaga district found hundreds of dead fish floating on the Rajang River. According to Sarawak’s Natural Resources and Environment Board controller, Dr. Penguang Manggil, the gills of the fish were found to be blocked by silt, and they are believed to have suffocated.
Penguang said the erosion of the rivers was caused by human activities upstream and he agreed that it would have long term consequences on the rivers as well as on the aquatic life. “We would like to call on everyone to ensure that whatever we do, it will have minimal impact on the rivers”, the state government official said to The Borneo Post.
1 Comment so far
Leave a comment