Published: Tuesday July 28, 2009
By RUBEN SARIO
KOTA KINABALU: More environmental activism is needed in Malaysia to ensure elected leaders are more conscious of environmental concerns.
Malaysian Nature Society president Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor said elected leaders needed to made more concerned about the environment and promote such issues in Parliament.
“We have a senator who speaks for the diabled but there is no one representing the environment,” he said in response to a question following a lecture on environmental issues at the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) here Tuesday.
Dr Salleh said environmental activitism could come in various forms including the setting up of a “green party,” which he said he was not promoting.
“But what I’m promoting is the need for all our wakil rakyat (elected representatives) to be more environmentally concerned,” he added.
Dr Salleh said among the pressing environmental issues in the country was the loss of its biodiversity partly due to the clearing of forests and wetlands for plantations.
He said in his term as director-general of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia from 1977-95, a species of tree became extinct as a result of wetlands being cleared for oil palm plantations.
“We have denied our future generations the opportunity to explore the potential of that particular tree,” Dr Salleh said, adding that it was saddening that this was happening in a country considered to be one of the world biodiversity hotspots.
He said the state of Sabah in the Borneo island had been subjected to “excessive logging” for many years, leaving only “pockets of pristine rainforests” in conservation areas such as the Danum Valley and the Maliau Basin.
Noting that large tracts of forested areas had been converted to tree plantations, Dr Salleh said there was still insufficient research on the impact of such large scale conversions on the environment.