Published: Monday May 3, 2010 MYT 3:20:00 PM
Oil palm planters urged to create corridors for wildlife
By JACK WONG
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.