An aerial check using drones found no logging activities an the Lentang Forest Reserve, government land and alienated land near Jalan Bentong-Karak and the Sri Telemong Bridge in Bentong.
The Pahang Forestry Department (JPNP), in a statement last night, said that checks at both locations found that wood waste scattered on the road and bridge which was linked to logging activities on social media, was actually debris from the water surge incident in Sungai Temeriak, Sungai Kerau and Sungai Timbul on Dec 18.
“Our checks found that the water surge incident in the two locations started at the Lentang Forest Reserve due to continuous heavy rain for three days from Dec 16 until the major floods in Bentong on Dec 18, supported by the Bentong Irrigation and Drainage Department’s rainfall distribution data which recorded an average reading of 155 millimetres on Dec 18 which is categorised as extremely heavy.
“The aerial survey also found many traces of landslides in the hilly areas in the Lentang Forest Reserve, government land and alienated land carrying debris consisting of soils, rocks and trees which were pushed into Sungai Temeriak, Sungai Kerau and Sungai Timbul by strong water currents,” the statement read.
JPNP added the field inspection also found several wood waste and tree trunks of various species which gave the impression that the strong river currents had also carried debris from outside the forest reserve.
According to JPNP, the water surge incidents at two locations have nothing to do with logging activities on Sungai Gapoi government land as claimed by some parties, because it is located 16 kilometres (km) away from the Sri Telemong Bridge and 23 km from Jalan Bentong-Karak.
Checks at the location yesterday found the water in Sungai Gapoi was clear and there were no traces of water surge incident.
JPNP also said that the Lentang Forest Reserve was gazetted as a water catchment area since 2002, and a 30-hectare area in the forest has been turned into a High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) plot, which means it is a protected forest and no logging activities are allowed in both areas.
On the wood waste, the department said further actions would be taken to ensure the immediate removal of the debris according to provisions under the National Forestry Act 1984.
The department added further checks will be conducted in early January by using helicopters to get a clearer picture of the issue and the surge water location in the Lentang forest reserve.– BERNAMA