Oil Palm Planters Urged to Create Corridors for Wildlife

KUCHING: Oil palm planters have been asked to create

“corridors’’ in their estates for wildlife, particularly the endangered

orang utan, to roam in their natural habitats.

Plantation

Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said

non-governmental organisations had raised their concerns on the impact

of oil palm development on wildlife.

“The creation of such

corridors will contribute towards a positive image on the part of the

industry for taking onboard conservation issues.

“The effort

will reflect the balancing of development needs and preservation of the

environment,’’ he added when opening the first meeting between Malaysian

and Indonesian oil palm growers at Kuching Hilton Monday.

At a

press conference later, Dompok said he would meet Sabah wildlife

director and oil palm plantation owners on the creation of such

corridors for the animals.

He said the areas to be preserved as

wildlife corridors would depend on the size of a plantation project.

Dompok urged Malaysian and Indonesian oil palm planters to adopt

good and sustainable agricultural practices to thwart the

unsubstantiated allegations by western anti-palm oil movements related

to sustainability and greenhouse gases emission.

“These

allegations can lead to distorted conclusions about the environmental

damage due to oil palm cultivation. We should endeavour not to

compromise on sustainable practices.

“If we do not follow these

basic rules and adhere to environmental needs, we may fall prey to these

allegations.

“If the industry does not adhere to sustainable

practices, the consequences of these actions are damaging, and it has

far reaching impacts,’’ he said.

Dompok said an adverse impact

would affect the incomes of smallholders in Malaysia and Indonesia whose

holdings made up about 40% of the total planted areas.

He said

that oil palm had become an important strategic crop for the development

of the rural economy by providing jobs, alleviating poverty and raising

the living standard of the people.

Malaysia now has 4.6mil

hectares of oil palm plantations that employ more than one million

people.

Dompok said palm oil contributed to more than one-third

of the agricultural gross domestic product (GDP), and earned RM49.5bil

in exports last year, up from RM14.9bil in 2000.

Source : The Star by Jack Wong

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