KILLS OUR FU­TURE

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

have poor com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing close by.

The worst method of il­le­gal log­ging is clear cut­ting, whereby the trees are re­moved from an area, leav­ing the land bar­ren.

It is of­ten de­scribed as an eco­log­i­cal trauma. This method is of­ten used by log­gers to max­imise prof­its.

For­est health be­gins from the soil, which is the source of es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents to the suc­cess­ful growth of plant species.

The open­ing of forests for log­ging and agri­cul­ture leads to soil degra­da­tion.

With­out tree canopy to cover the soil, the direct im­pact of sun­light and rain­fall can de­grade soil fer­til­ity.

Un­re­stricted hu­man ac­tiv­ity can also dam­age soil, for in­stance, in­crease in soil com­paction due to ma­chin­ery de­creases air and wa­ter pores in the soil and, thus, in­hibits the ac­tiv­i­ties of soil macro-or­gan­isms and other mi­crobes.

Forests are ecosys­tems that af­fect al­most ev­ery species on the planet. When they are de­graded, it can set off a dev­as­tat­ing chain of events. Il­le­gal log­ging causes harm to a na­tion’s econ­omy and the en­vi­ron­ment.

The only way to rec­tify the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of il­le­gal log­ging is through for­est re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grammes.

As for­est soil is the ba­sis of for­est health, study­ing the ef­fects of for­est re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion projects on soil fer­til­ity will serve as the ba­sis of heal­ing this forests.

For­est health is eval­u­ated through soil prop­er­ties analy­ses, ecosys­tem pro­duc­tiv­ity or soil biota.

It is the eval­u­a­tion of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween soil and for­est trees. Soil may seem triv­ial, but it is the back­bone of a for­est’s well­be­ing.

Re­search on soil fer­til­ity of re­ha­bil­i­tated forests in Perak was car­ried out by soil sci­en­tists from Univer­siti Pu­tra Malaysia.

The leader of the project, As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Dr Arifin Abdu, stud­ied the im­pact of for­est re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion on Chikus, Kinta and Ta­pah Hill for­est re­serves.

He said the suc­cess of for­est tree growth was of­ten per­ceived to be de­pen­dent on ex­ter­nal fac­tors, such as sun­light and rain­fall.

How­ever, soil played the most im­por­tant role in en­sur­ing good tree growth.

Stud­ies on soil prop­er­ties of Malaysian for­est re­serves is ex­plained in a book ti­tled Trop­i­cal For­est Soil Char­ac­ter­is­tics in Re­ha­bil­i­tated Forests of Malaysia, pub­lished by UPM Press.

The book sum­marises stud­ies on soil prop­er­ties of se­lected for­est re­serves and how for­est re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grammes have af­fected soil fer­til­ity.

DR DALJIT SINGH

Se­nior lec­turer, Depart­ment of Land Man­age­ment, Fac­ulty of Agri­cul­ture, Univer­siti Pu­tra Malaysia

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