Thursday, October 28, 2010

Forestry: an unnatural disaster in Sarawak

22 October 2010

By Pak Bui

Sarawak Forestry Corporation Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and forestry department director Len Talif Salleh has dismissed the horrific ecological and infrastructure damage wrought by the Rejang log-jam as a “natural disaster”.

Len Talif argued that heavy rain, rather than over-logging or the impoundment of the Bakun Dam, had caused a catastrophic pile-up of cut logs and debris on the surface of Malaysia’s largest river. The accumulation of rubbish had blocked river traffic, wrecked boat jetties and killed fish and aquatic life, leaving communities without an important source of nutrition.

The forestry head tried to buttress his claims using technology. He said the 3D Airborne Hyperspectral Sensor taken on October 15 had shown the area was still covered by forest, but traces of landslides could be seen due to a heavy downpour at the Ulu Sungai Melatai catchment area.

Many Sarawakians are skeptical. They have traveled up the Rejang by boat, or have flown overhead, and have seen with their own ‘3D sensors’ – their eyes – the destruction caused by uncontrolled logging.

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