Is cutting down rainforests truly ‘sustainable’?

Dr Yusof Basiron replies to Jonathon Porritt’s comments in The Times UK where he says that rich countries demanding the preservation of all forests are guilty of ‘eco-imperialism’.Is he right?

Sir,

I agree that “managing rainforests is a great responsibility” (‘Palmed Off’, leading articles, Sept 4th). Malaysia committed at the UN Earth Summit in 1992 to maintain at least 50% of our land cover as forest. That commitment to the planet is still being met today. The idea that we need lessons from the UK (current forest cover a mere 11%, according to the U.N.) is somewhat insulting.

Malaysia, alongside protecting forests, is a leading producer of palm oil. Palm oil cultivation has lifted millions out of poverty, transformed rural communities, and provided unprecedented employment and prosperity. In fact, 40% of Malaysia’s palm oil is planted by small farmers: over 300,000 formerly poor small farmers and their families now prosper through planting palm oil in Malaysia today.

Malaysia has proven that responsible palm oil production and sustainable development can work together. People, planet and profit – the three Ps – are not mutually exclusive.

Dr Yusof Basiron
CEO, Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC)

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