15/6/06 (The Star) - MIRI: Malaysia's multibillion ringgit palm-oil industry is under heavy attack by global environmentalists.
These people want to destroy Malaysia's international reputation by claiming its plantations are destroying huge numbers of endangered animals and plants.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui said the Government was fighting back.
“ The Government, through the Malaysian Palm Oil Promotion Council, has launched a pioneer project to protect, conserve and preserve wildlife and plants - especially endangered species - in the 4.8 million hectares of oil-palm plantations nationwide,” he said.
Chin said a RM20mil fund was being set up to finance the project.
“The Government has approved the setting up of this fund. RM10mil will come from the council, while the other RM10mil will be from government sources and industry players.
“The fund will be used to finance a special project aimed at identifying endangered populations of wildlife, both animals and plants, in oil-palm plantations.
“The council will then set up a databank containing detailed information on areas in plantations that have such wildlife so that they can be earmarked for conservation and preservation.
“Scientific studies will be carried out involving the biodiversity of areas found to have endangered species. Specific projects and activities will then be launched to preserve the wildlife so that the animals and plants will thrive and flourish,” he said recently.
He said that Malaysia was believed to be the first among palm-oil producing countries in the world to have such a wildlife protection project in oil palm plantations.
“We have sought the co-operation of oil-palm producers to ensure the success of the project, which the Government believes will go very far in promoting sustainable development of palm oil and related products.
“Through the project, we are reinvesting in our future. Ultimately, investing in wildlife conservation will benefit not only our industry and our environment but also mankind as a whole,” he stressed.
Chin said the public and non-governmental bodies are welcome to contribute towards the project.
The fund is called the Malaysian Palm Oil Conservation Fund and is operational with immediate effect.
Chin said that last year’s RM29bil income from the export of palm oil and related products marked a RM3bil increase from that earned in 2004, adding that the figure was expected to be higher this year.