Ability of the tropical rainforest as a ‘rain catchment area’ is declining due to logging
By Dr Nur Azam Abdullah
Natural disasters that hit Malaysia every year leave a destructive result on the country’s development, especially floods. Earthquakes, landslides, flash floods, forest fires, tsunamis, droughts and many more are examples of natural disasters.
Some say the floods that struck the country this time was due to the unusual continuous rains and tidal circumstances. This catastrophe must be assessed from two angles: the natural cause and the human action itself.
Suppose we inspect the flood in Selangor, particularly the area around Hulu Langat, which experienced very severe overflows. This incident is feared to be due to the cause of several river combinations that were unable to accommodate the daily water capacity due to heavy and incessant rains.
This phenomenon is called “Kepala air”, where water flow grows larger and transforms physically into waves. Among the more critical factors is the ability of the tropical rainforest as a “rain catchment area” is declining due to logging, and hill diversion due to uncontrolled quarrying activities is also a significant cause of disasters due to human hands themselves.
Therefore, a guideline should be compiled to reduce the risk of natural disasters, specifically floods that can harm the community and can be fatal.
The selection of felled replacement trees should have a growth period of four to five years to stabilise the rain catchment area. For example, the replanting process employs Paulownia tree seeds, as in Sarawak.
The Paulownia tree can grow up to 20 feet in a year and reach 30 feet in two years. It will get a mature height of 60-70 feet in six to eight years. This process will be able to re-green the felled area quickly.
At the agency and committee level, the flood area mapping action utilises drone and satellite technology in the affected areas as a guide when the flood warning system should be ready in 2023.
This application is crucial because the government must reposition low-lying areas so that the risk of losing property, livestock can be reduced, thus protecting the lives of the affected population in the future.
In addition, the Malaysian Meteorological Department should consistently be ready and update the information when there is a monsoon or climate change from outside and within the country.
Weather or meteorological satellites are capable of performing observations, synoptic analysis and predicting weather systems at all times. The data obtained are a necessary factor in predicting local climate change.
In that subject, the Malaysian Meteorological Department can use satellite data for sudden changes in area data such as humidity, temperature, wind speed if there is any threat.
Similarly, the equipment and assets of the enforcement agency should be constantly maintained and modernised so that they are always in good condition to perform.
In addition, support should be increased to each annual budget where the emergency actions do not rely on public boats employed by public individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for operational practicality and augmented safety levels.
Also, continuous training of boat handling skills can improve efficiency and reduce panic situations of security forces.
The search and rescue (SAR) operations of chronic patients require very swift action due to disconnection of communication, including internet and telephone lines, as the electrical system will be ceased to avoid the hazard of electric shock.
The National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) ought to designate an adequate and instantaneous SAR mechanism so that flood victims do not panic due to the disaster.
In addition, chronic patient data, including GPS location addresses, should be updated using IoT technology such as Blockchain to store regular patient data and information in an orderly manner.
In addition, periodic inspections of the structural integrity of affected buildings and residential areas need to be updated every three years to ensure facilities are safe to live in for more prolonged spans without structural disruption due to cracking or dipping due to soft and weak soil reinforcement.
The same goes for electrical wiring systems to acquire the services of a wiring contractor registered with the Energy Commission.
As for the irrigation and drainage system, the Department of Irrigation and Drainage should manage the river water irrigation system because of stagnant water due to damage to the drainage gate system, which causes water to accumulate and rise following the constant rain.
Similarly, the issue of city roadways that have been paved with tar is sponge-like, elastic, relatively soft and hollow. Much water is absorbed and filled every space in those cavities during the flood and caused saturation.
This condition induces the tar structure to weaken and eventually form holes called “potholes” due to the impact and pressure of the passing vehicles.
Therefore, the maintenance of this paved road is seen as a required concern to protect the lives of road users. — @Green
Dr Nur Azam Abdullah is Assistant Professor at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, International Islamic University Malaysia.