August 30, 2007 (Bernama), Kuala Lumpur - Not all environment issues and related problems like the shrinking number of orang utans in Indonesia can be blamed on the expansion of oil palm plantations in the country, says an industry member.
"When the haze occurs, the oil palm industry is blamed. When an orang utan is killed, the industry is blamed. But that is not entirely true," said Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) executive chairman Derom Bangun.
In Indonesia the orang utans are found only in the northern part of Sumatra and Kalimantan and about 400,000 hectares of areas in Tanjung Puting National Park has been allocated for the habitat of orang utan.
It is not correct for people to say with that any expansion in oil palm plantations will affect the orang utan, he said.
"The decreasing number of the orang utan population is not all associated with oil palm expansion," he told Bernama at the last day of the International Palm Oil Congress (PIPOC 2007) here, Thursday.
He cited activities such as illegal smuggling as some of the causes.
As for the haze problem caused by open burning, Bangun said dry weather also contributed to forest fires.
Bangun said the Indonesian government has implemented several laws for the conservation of the country's forest and wildlife.
"The government has done a lot by promoting different laws on forestry and environment, including conservation of endangered species," he said.
Lately, wildlife conservation groups have claimed that native species such as the orang utan and Sumatra rhinos are being treatened by the clearing of forests for oil palm expansion in Indonesia and Malaysia.