Friday, 21 August 2009

Raping Mother Nature for palm's sake

Raping Mother Nature for palm's sake - Malaysiakini

JC Tansen Aug 19, 09

In a recent media report, the Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Hamzah Zainudin denied claims by several international NGOs that Malaysia is destroying its natural forests to plant oil palm.

He also asserted that 60 percent of Malaysia is covered by natural forests. These are unsubstantiated claims.

Just last month Sime Darby announced that the company is creating an additional 100,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in Sarawak and Sabah.

Adding to the irony is the fact that the Malaysian government has majority control of Sime Darby.

In recent years, Sime Darby has led the way in destroying the earth's natural biodiversity not only in Malaysia but overseas, in countries like Indonesia and Liberia.

There are many other Malaysian oil palm companies doing much the same in a somewhat smaller scale but whose cumulative impact on nature is equally devastating.

In the book Deforesting Malaysia by respected authors Jomo KS, Chang YT and Khoo KJ, Malaysia was only 56 percent covered by natural forests in 1991.

Since then, there has been rampant destruction of natural forests for conversion to commodity crops like oil palm, hydro-electric and water supply dam-building projects and other types of land development.

In addition, the activities of logging companies have badly degraded our forests.

Once a tropical forest is destroyed, it takes millions of years for comparable biodiversity to evolve again.

In 2008, Malaysia gained new notoriety around the world when it emerged as the country with the third longest list of plants and animals threatened with extinction in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's 'Red alert of threatened species'.

I beseech the Deputy Minister to tell Malaysians and the world how Malaysia has been able to destroy her forests so aggressively on the one hand, and on the other increase its reported cover of natural forests year by year?