08 October 2002 (Business Times) - MALAYSIA has managed to convince theFood and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to accord rubber plantations asplanted forest.
Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said currently,his ministry is trying to get the international body to give similarrecognition to oil palm and cocoa plantations.
He said such a recognition will immediately expand Malaysia’s forest coverfrom 60 per cent to 76 per cent.
“If pine and spruce could be considered as planted forest, I don’t see whyoil palm and cocoa cannot be accorded that status,” he told reporters inKuala Lumpur after opening an international conference on degraded landsand forests yesterday.
Dr Lim said now that demand to convert forest land for agriculturalpurposes has decreased substantially, the Government encourages stategovernments to re-gazette the land into permanent forest reserves.
He said clearing the forest to make way for agriculture has decreasedbecause smallholders are abandoning their land while estates are facing ashortage of workers.
The minister also said the Sarawak Government plans to rehabilitate threemillion hectares of native customary rights land under secondary forest toplant the acacia for the pulp and paper industry.
Earlier, he witnessed a memorandum of understanding signing ceremonybetween the Plant Genetic Resource Institute and the Asia PacificAssociation of Forestry Research Institutions.
The two non-governmental organisations are developing collaborativeefforts in the conservation of tropical forest genetic resources in theregion.