High-tech robotic logging equipment will be used to harvest priceless submerged timber in the country's largest man-made Kenyir Lake soon.
It is estimated that there were some three million trees submerged under water in the 33,000ha lake when the area was flooded.
State Health, Unity, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affair's Committee chairman Toh Chin Yaw said the state was discussing with a Canadian company to use the environment-friendly and efficient method to harvest the trees.
"We are studying the possibility and looking at the impact on the environment before using the robotic equipment to conduct underwater logging."
He said, by using the equipment, the submerged trees could be cut and floated through a special technique without damaging the environment.
The robotic lumberjack, akin to a logging submarine, is operated using sonar and underwater cameras to identity the wood.
A picture of the trees is beamed to a screen via satellite for decision makers to decide which trees to cut without causing damage to other submerged trees.
The method is considered swifter and less costly as it does the work without much labour and time-intensive processes compared to normal underwater methods.
Logs stripped of their bark and remaining under water for a while are known for their quality. These timbers are suitable for a wide range of industrial and specialised uses.
Environmentally sound underwater logging is also much quieter and less conservation is needed to carry out the task.
State Forestry Department officer from Kuala Berang, Sheikh Abu Bakar Ahmad, said the logs underwater were equivalent to those found on land at the brink of Kenyir Lake.
"There are giant trees like Chengkal, Merbau and Meranti submerged in Kenyir Lake which was previously a forest reserve. We are not sure about the amount of trees submerged as there was no inventory, but we believe the quantum is the same as that on higher ground surrounding the lake," he said.
© 2007 The Star Online