While the people’s rage on the country’s continuous logging activities has not subsided, another claim saying logging was good for tiger habitat and population added more fuel to the fire.
The remark was made by Abdul Khalim Abu Samah, the Director of Kelantan Forestry Department, at a press conference in Relai Forest Reserve Gua Musang. As reported by MalaysiaKini, Abdul Khalim claimed that logging was actually “beneficial for the tiger population”.
He stated that once an area had been deforested, new vegetation would grow, encouraging the existence of new animal species that would become the source of food for the tiger.
He said based on research by experts, areas that had been deforested were good for the tiger population.
“The tiger population will increase when small trees grow in the deforested area. The area will see the presence of animals such as mouse deers which is food for tigers. It will be easier for tigers to hunt their prey,” Abdul Khalim reportedly said.
He further clarified that Kelantan always complied with the annual felling ration (CTT) determined by the National Land Council (NLC).
“Here in Kelantan, (we) always comply with the CTT determined by NLC. We do not exceed the annual felling ration permitted, which is 3,900ha per year, as reported in the 12th Malaysia Plan. In fact, logging activities are only done in production forest reserves, not protected forest reserves,” said Abdul Khalim.
Pristine forests are the most ideal for tiger habitat
It was believed that Abdul Khalim quoted the research done by WWF-Malaysia in 2009. In response to the news, WWF-Malaysia issued a statement to clarify its stance on the matter.
“As a research-based organisation, we believe in learning and understanding conservation science and its methods. Our study published in 2009 entitled ‘The importance of selectively logged forests for tiger Panthera tigris conservation: a population density estimate in Peninsular Malaysia’ by D. Mark Rayan and Shariff Wan Mohamad was done to obtain information on the density of tigers specifically in selectively logged forests.
“It is important to note that the study refers to selective logging, not indiscriminate logging. Selective logging is a forestry practice that only cuts a select number of trees annually in a forest compartment instead of the whole forest at once, in line with Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) practises,” it said.
The organisation further stated that the 2009 study concluded that further research was urgently needed to understand the ecology of tigers and their prey in selectively logged forests. WWF-Malaysia emphasised that it was essential to differentiate SFM that complies with the principles of sustainability from conventional logging where indiscriminate logging takes place.
“It is this indiscriminate logging that leads to forest degradation and eventually deforestation when the forest has lost its functions and values and therefore converted into other land use. While SFM retains the integrity and functions of a forest, a degraded forest is bad for biodiversity and only generalist species that have adapted to it.”
The organisation expressed its stance that the pristine, undisturbed forests would remain the ideal habitat for tigers.
Logging affects not only tigers
According to Free Malaysia Today, the President of the Association for the Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (PEKA), Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil, urged Abdul Khalim to stop issuing any
statements or risk becoming a laughing stock.
She told the news outlet that Abdul Khalim’s remark was “very irresponsible” and that logging activities affected tigers and other wildlife species and the Orang Asli communities.