Orang Utan Not Under Threat

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia refutes allegations that its oil palm

plantations were wiping out the rainforest and causing the extinction of

the orang utan.

“In Malaysia, large tracts of forest are being

preserved permanently; for every hectare of oil palm, the country

preserves four hectares of permanent reserves which is a healthy balance

in terms of the land use policy,” Plantation Industries and Commodities

Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said yesterday.

Taking on

western environmental groups who say that oil palm plantations were

destroying the rainforest, he said the displacement of orang utans

cannot be attributed to palm oil development in general.

Speaking

at the opening of the International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference

hosted by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council here, Dompok said Malaysia was

committed to the United Nations Rio Earth Summit 1982 pledge of

retaining 50% of total land area under forest.

He said there were

laws to ensure that plantations operated in harmony with wildlife,

biodiversity and the environment.

He said that a number of areas

where higher populations of orang utans and other wildlife were present

had been gazetted as wildlife sanctuaries, national parks or forest

reserves.

“In addition, the oil palm industry has voluntarily

taken steps to be involved in wildlife and biodiversity conservation,”

he said, adding that they were involved in efforts to recreate riparian

reserves and connect wildlife corridors.

He said Malaysian palm

oil has overcome various challenges like dubious health claims by

competing oils because successful research had debunked those claims.

Source : The Star

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