Wednesday, 25 June 2008

PM: No clearing of forests for oil palm plantations

note: If the PM is to be believed, then I think we can consider this another big step forward (the last one in my view was Unilever's decision to move towards only using sustainable palm oil. So, despite all the bad news I post, there is hope and every reason to believe we are making solid progress. But, we must not forget that Malaysian palm oil companies are VERY active in Indonesia, so the PM's announcement may simply be a question of 'why cut down our forests when we can take Indonesia's instead?'

2008/06/25 New Straits Times, Malaysia

PM: No clearing of forests for oil palm plantations

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will not allow the clearing of forest areas for any new oil palm plantations, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday.

He said this was avoid accusations being made by some western parties that the opening of oil palm plantations was destroying the forest and ecosystems.

"We realise there are campaigns being carried out by some non-governmental organisations in the west to spread negative news about us as they think that the oil palm plantations are a result of forest clearing which is also endangering the existence of orang utan," he told reporters here.

Abdullah, who is also Finance Minister, said the existing oil palm plantations were enough to cater to current demands and there was no need for the opening of new plantations at the moment.There are currently 4.3 million hectares of oil palm plantation land in the country.

"We don't have to reduce the protected forests to increase new oil palm plantations. We have proof. With more effective management of the plantations and new technologies, production can go up by 30 per cent," he said after chairing the meeting of the cabinet committee on the competitiveness of the country's oil palm industry.

He said continued research and development would also result in value added products in the industry. On the expansion of the biofuel industry, he said: "This will depend on the investors, on whether they want to produce palm oil as a fuel material. The high price of world crude oil will be a major determinant on whether they produce oil palm-based fuel."

On whether he was concerned with the increasing palm oil price, he said: "As far as we are concerned, price of oil (palm oil) is our wealth. As for cooking oil, it is a controlled food item." - Bernama