Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (Reach) president Ramakrishnan Ramasamy says local authorities must make use of satellite images to monitor forest destruction in the region.

He said they should not evade responsibility by saying that reports lodged by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Reach did not have sufficient details.

“It will be difficult for us to give complete details, but what we can do is to provide information on where the encroachments are taking place, based on our observations on the ground.

“Local authorities such as the district office can then follow up on the information provided by using satellite images from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

“The satellite images will help them to verify if the reported areas are indeed at a risk of deforestation,” he told The Rakyat Post.

He said if the local authorities were really serious about enforcement, they would not be missing a great deal of environmental degradation going on in Cameron Highlands as it is now.

He said no one would dare to chop down large areas if they knew they would get caught.

Until then, deforestation would only become much more difficult to halt, he warned.

At the same time, he also cautioned that even the best satellite surveillance would be worthless without changes on the ground.

Although the Cameron Highlands had seen a large number of operations in recent months against illegal farms and foreign workers, very little action had been taken to tackle destructive agricultural practices such as rampant use of banned pesticides.

Reach had previously warned that banned herbicides and insecticides were seeping into the water sources, posing serious human health risks.

“Unless we change our mentality, we will continue to damage the soil and water, and even the regional climate on an unprecedented scale.

“At the rate we are going, we are making Cameron Highlands an unsustainable place to live in, visit or even grow our food over the long term.”

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