Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Preserve our forests

Wednesday November 18, 2009 The Star, Malaysia

Preserve our forests

READING your report “Malaysian timber exporters see strong demand from India” (The Star, Nov 17) brings up several issues that will have long-term impact on our country as an environmentally friendly place, and a country which heeds the call to preserve our forests, and do our part to control and push back global warming.

With this in mind, some statements made by the company are a cause for concern.

It was quoted that last year, Malaysia exported timber and timber products to India worth US$362.8mil, a robust 17.1% jump compared with the previous year. This raises the question that if this company is to continue to be a growing concern, will it be necessary to increase our timber felling operations? Even at a rate of a 10% increase per year, can our diminishing forests withstand the onslaught?

We are not talking of only this company that is destroying forever our pristine jungles, but also the “needs” of our palm oil industries and farms.

I do not believe even for a second that sustainable forest management schemes work. Can anyone believe that it is possible to replace a 100-year-old tree that can be felled in a matter of minutes?

More worrisome is another statement that “India’s ban on most domestic logging plus the rising prosperity of the middle-class Indians continue to fuel demand for timber and wood-based products, making it the second-largest importer of tropical logs in the world after China.”

My question is, if India sees fit to ban most of its domestic logging to protect its forests, and gets Malaysia to exploit its own for the sake of the Indian middle class, are we not stupid to do that?

Does Malaysia want to see its beloved country being reduced to wasteland in 20 years’ time in return for short-term profits of a few companies and state governments? And China, which preserves its forests as heritage sites, is an even more voracious consumer of our timber.

The Government seeks to push Malaysia into becoming a high-income country by promulgating various policies in its annual budgets. If we look at most developed countries with high incomes and good quality of life, they have balanced development, and care for their natural assets, guarding them from greedy businessmen and parochial politicians.

Do we have the political mettle to do it?


Petaling Jaya.