Malaysian Palm Oil Council Responds to NGO Attacks; Urges Dialogue

The Malaysian Palm Oil Council today responded to criticism from environmental NGOs questioning Malaysia’s commitment to conservation and biodiversity protection, citing numerous initiatives that exemplify the country’s commitment to environmental stewardship, many of which are directly supported by the Malaysian palm oil industry. The Malaysian palm oil industry reiterates our desire to engage in open dialogue with NGOs, but believes mischaracterizations undermine the spirit of cooperation and undermines efforts to expand conservation initiatives.

Recent calls by NGOs for a “No-Kill Policy” ignore Malaysia’s long-standing commitment to conservation and biodiversity protection, including robust protection of the country’s critical wildlife, as demonstrated by the recently enacted Wildlife Conservation Act of 2010. Species like the orangutan, Borneo rhinoceros, and the pygmy elephant are accorded the highest legal protection, while penalties have been increased against violators of these protections.  These efforts are supported by the Malaysian palm oil industry.

Malaysia’s commitment to preserving the environment and sustainable development is second to none.  Our commitment to preserving 50 percent of our forests remains on track twenty years since that commitment was made at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.  This goes beyond the 10 percent recommend be preserved by the United Nations. While NGOs attack the palm oil industry, they ignore Malaysia’s achievements in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and the country’s participation in crafting the Rio+20 sustainable development goals, including preserving biodiversity and improving food security.

Palm oil occupies only 1 percent of the world’s land under agriculture while contributing more than a third of globally traded vegetable oils, and expansion of plantations occurs generally at the expense of other crops, such as rubber and coconut. Additional agriculture expansion can only occur on land already identified for agriculture purposes. Claims that the palm oil industry is contributing to the decline of emblematic species is not reflective of the industry’s conservation efforts, including the establishment in 2006 of the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF).

Rather than attack an industry that has reduced poverty throughout the country and brought about societal advancement for thousands, we urge the NGOs to consider these conservation efforts by the Government of Malaysia and MPOC as a testament to our commitment:

  1. Malaysia, Indonesia and the Brunei are signatories to the Heart of Borneo Initiative that established a 200,000 hectare trans boundary conservation zone, one of the largest in the world, jointly administered by the three countries.
  1. The Ministry for Plantation Industries and Commodities announced the allocation of RM 5 million for the establishment of a 2,000 hectare preserve for displaced elephants in Kinabatangan on the island of Borneo at the recently concluded Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium. This is part of Sabah’s three five-year State Species Action Plans to increase protections for orang-utans, elephants and rhinoceroses.
  1. The MPOWCF is a critical source of funding and support for orangutan activities in Sabah, undertaken in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department. MPOWCF similarly collaborates with  the Sabah Forestry Department’s Jungle Patrol Unit to deter poaching and enforce environmental laws.

Malaysia will continue to ensure that its rich biodiversity and forests are protected in perpetuity, while ensuring that the country’s rich natural resources benefit all Malaysians. And while MPOC welcomes the cooperation and dialogue with NGOs in meeting this goal, we will not allow criticism to undermine our mutual goals of national prosperity and environmental conservation.

Malaysian Palm Oil Council

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