Nasa: Malaysia sees 115% jump in deforestation
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia saw a 115% increase in deforestation during the first three months of 2013, according to a forest tracking tool developed by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) researchers.
Malaysia's figure was the highest among five countries where deforestation was detected, followed by Nepal (114%), Mexico (92%), Argentina (72%), and Madagascar (51%).
Nasa's Quarterly Indicator of Cover Change, a satellite-based tool that underpins environment watchdog Mongabay.com's Global Forest Disturbance Alert System, noted the jump earlier this month.
Christopher Potter, a senior research scientist at the Nasa Ames Research Center, told the environment watchdog that Malaysia has a deforestation hotspot on the western coastal area of Perak.
"Many areas in Sarawak have been detected with forest cover change over the past two years," Potter, told The Star Online.
Perak DAP head Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham revealed that there had been many complaints of logging in the Manjong district of Perak, including Segari and his own Parliamentary constituency of Beruas.
"The logging is carried out at odd hours in the middle of the night, which is very suspicious. However, we don't know if it's illegal. I cannot verify the legality of this timber logging, so I cannot lodge a police report," he told The Star Online.
Ngeh, who is also Sitiawan assemblyman, said that he had tried to raise the issue during the state assembly sitting, but he and other Opposition assemblymen had "hardly been given time" to ask their questions.
He said he would bring it up in Parliament.
"However, (Perak Mentri Besar) Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir has to answer this question. Is this logging legal or not?" he said.
Zambry and Perak state government exco member Dr Muhammad Amin Zakaria could not be reached for comment.
The World Bank had previously estimated that trees in Malaysia are being cut down at roughly four times the sustainable rate.
The Malaysian Nature Society expressed concern over the statistics, and promised to review the information.
"We will cross-reference with our sources on the ground... We are and remain opposed to the clearing of any natural forests in Malaysia," said MNS communications head Andrew Sebastian.