Thursday August 9, 2012
Preserve Larut Hills as it is a valuable water catchment area
I FULLY agree with Zari Malaysiana in “Unpopular Bukit Larut should stay that way” (The Star, Aug 5).
In the late 1990s, Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) carried out a biological management study of Bukit Larut together with WWF Malaysia and ERA Consumer.
Based on the findings of the study, a Save Bukit Larut Campaign was launched.
Bukit Larut is strategically situated in an area where there is little traffic and development which makes it one of the most pristine forest reserves in the country.
According to the statistics of Perak Water Board, 21.53sq km is dedicated as water catchment area covering Sungai Jana, Sungai Ranting and Sungai Air Terjun where water intake points are located in all these areas.
This clearly shows that Bukit Larut is an important natural water catchment area for the surrounding area. Any disturbance will have an adverse effect on the water supply as well as the ecosystem.
According to the slope study, Bukit Larut is recorded to score loss of soil at 150 tonne/hectare/year and this translates to high risk of soil erosion.
This figure makes Bukit Larut not suitable for structures such as cable car and massive infrastructure development.
Since 1910, 7,130ha of Bukit Larut was classified as forest reserve. In 1962, 2,747ha was again gazetted as “Larut Hills Virgin Jungle reserve”.
According to the report, “A global overview of protected areas on the world heritage list of particular importance for biodiversity – 2000” by World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UNEP, Bukit Larut is classified as one of the Regional Centres of Plant Diversity.
Bukit Larut is home to a unique and diverse flora and also harbours about 200 species of birds.
With massive development such as the cable car aimed at attracting more tourists, waste generation and human traffic flow will increase and this will have a severe impact on the overall ecosystem.
Therefore, Fomca pleads with the Perak state government to look into this matter and reconsider the decision of the cable car project. Instead, upgrading works should be done on the existing bungalows on the hill.
There should also be clear guidelines drawn up for local and foreign tourists.
We also urge the state government to gazette Bukit Larut as the permanent natural water catchment area and free from any development.
DATUK MARIMUTHU NADASON