12/10/05 KUALA LUMPUR, (Bernama) -- There is no evidence of a threat towildlife caused by oil palm plantations, three palm oil-basedorganisations reiterated, Wednesday.
The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA), Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)and Malaysian Palm Oil Promotion Council (MPOPC) were responding to arecent BBC news item entitled "Shoppers threat to orangutans" which wasbased on reports by Friends of the Earth.
The news item claimed that the palm oil industry was environmentally cruelbecause it encroached on the habitat of the orangutan.
"These allegations are not well founded and contain a number of factualinaccuracies," the three palm oil-based organisations said in a jointstatement.
They said being a perennial tree crop cultivated in tropical areas, thereis far greater biodiversity in oil palm plantations than in the case ofannual cereals, vegetables and other short-term cropping systems of theworld.
"A typical oil palm plantation is teemed with 268 species of flora andfauna which include microbes, insects, arthropods, fish, birds and smallmammals such as the relatively rare leopard cat Felis Bengalalisis," theorganisations said.
"In addition, there is the rearing of fish, cattle, sheep and even deertogether with intercropping with fruit trees, timber species and tablefood crops such as dry land rice and vegetables, thereby adding to therich diversity of life in the plantations," they added.
In Malaysia, palm oil is a strategic, well-planned agricultural industrythat has responded positively to many environmental challenges, theorganisations said.
"The industry is a product of the vision and determination of manystakeholders in the government as well as the private sector who have ledthe way with strategic policies, including environmental managementpolicies," they said.
According to the organisations, good examples of creating a greaterbalance between the economy and the ecology within the framework of theplantation ecosystem have long been part of oil palm cultivation inMalaysia.
"Preserving jungle reserves and wildlife sanctuaries as well as promotinggreen corridors are common examples of efforts in enhancing biodiversityenrichment widely found in the oil plantation context," they said.
"The industry is far better regulated and the orangutan far betterprotected than is suggested in the (BBC) report," they added.
The organisations pointed out that since 2000,about 27,000 hectares of theflood plain of Kinabatangan with its abundant diversity of flora and faunahave been gazetted as the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary under the LandOrdinance.
They noted that the Lower Kinabatangan flood plain is one of Sabah's mostimpressive natural ecosystems and a recent survey showed that thousands oforangutans remained in and around the protected area.
According to the organisations, Malaysia has long made concerted effortsto ensure the conservation of its biodiversity and natural resources bycreating and supporting projects both inland and at sea.
Among the examples they cited are the Sepilok Orangutan RehabilitationCentre, Turtle Island Reserve, Sipadan Island Reserve and Danum Valley.
"As a serious participant in the global market, the Malaysian oil palmindustry has evolved over time to be a thought-leader in terms ofenvironmental management," they said.
"The industry also has long championed that a balance can and must beachieved between commercial needs and preservation of the environment,which is the goal for all players in the industry to produce sustainablepalm oil," they added.