from The Star Online
February 22 2009
MIRI: The Bakun hydro-electric dam catchment area has been overlogged by more than 40,000ha, an environmental group said.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) said the original catchment area for the Bakun project in central Sarawak, as stipulated in the first environmental impact assessment report, was supposed to be 64,000ha.
However, more than 100,000ha have already been logged, said SAM field officer for Sarawak Jok Jau Evong, adding that ground studies in Bakun showed that forests outside the original catchment area had been subjected to intensive logging.
“It seems that the logging is being carried out all the way from Bakun to the forested areas earmarked for clearing under the proposed Murum Dam project.
“A large portion of the forest within the Murum Dam area has already been logged,” he told The Star yesterday.
He said the whole area from Bakun to Murum would eventually be cleared of all timber.
“SAM is worried that the ecosystem will suffer even greater damage because of the massive land clearing,” he said.
Evong was commenting on Assistant State Environment and Public Health Minister Dr Abang Rauf Abang Zen’s statement that tonnes of fish in Bakun had died recently due to excessive siltation in the Bakun catchment area.
He said this practice had caused serious siltation in the river systems in Bakun and had contributed to the suffocation of a large number of fishes.
Under Sarawak’s Natural Resources and Environment Board laws, any land development project measuring 500ha and above must be subjected to EIA scrutiny and approval.
Evong said the authorities must monitor all land development projects regardless of the size because all of them contribute to destruction of the environment, riverine resources and wildlife.
Dr Rauf, when asked yesterday how big an area had been logged in the Bakun catchment region, replied that he did not have the exact figure.
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