Archive for September, 2009

Anti- Palm Oil Campaign Unlikely To Have Immediate Impact On Exporters

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |

(Bernama) — The anti-palm oil campaign by environmental groups is unlikely to have immediate effect on leading Malaysian and Indonesian exporters but could lead to trade and aid restrictions in future, the crop’s pro-campaign group said Tuesday.

Alan Oxley, chairman of the World Growth International, a US-based non-governmental organisation, said despite the smear campaign in Europe and restrictions on renewal energy there, palm oil’s major markets are China and India.

Despite the vigorous campaign to link palm oil to deforestation and increasing greenhouse gas emissions, it may not be sufficient to be included in the new climate change treaty being negotiated here and likely to be finalised in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.

“I don’t think it will be part of the forest component when negotiators finalise the deal. All of these claims are questionable or at best severely exaggerated,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change talk here leading up to the Copenhagen meeting.

Oxley said major palm oil producers should be wary as some groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace were campaigning to pressure processors and consumers to boycott the commodity and the European Union to block import.

In fact, the EU Renewable Energy Directive restricts the availability of palm oil, he said, adding that the World Growth had launched “Palm Oil Green Development” campaign to correct the myths, misconceptions and falsehoods perpetuated by these groups.

“Even if they cannot succeed in stopping palm oil expansion through the treaty, they can restrict trade and aid to countries that converts forest land to oil palm estates,” he said, adding that such a move was contrary to the Bali Agreement which states that climatic change strategies should support and not undermine economic development.

Oxley said one reason for the smear campaign is because palm oil has become a strong competitor to other edible oil such as soyabean and rapeseed, accounting for 32 per cent of global production and 59 per cent annual export.

“Demand for palm oil has increased dramatically over the years. It has a number of advantages over competitor products. When new products have an impact on markets, there is a natural process of adjustment,” he said.

He said palm oil cultivation has proven to be an effective tool in combating poverty, citing Malaysia and Indonesia where 40 per cent are owned by smallholders, and similar efforts are being taken to introduce the crop in Africa, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Laos.

“It has become a substantial export and a key contributor to poverty alleviation and higher living standards. In the 80s when palm oil was grown in Malaysia, the World Bank rated palm oil cultivation as one of the most effective ways to resolve poverty,” he said.

He also said oil palm uses less land than crop-based oilseeds, using only 0.26 hectares of land to produce one tonne of oil palm, while soyabean, sunflower and rapeseed need 2.2, 2 and 1.5 hectares, respectively.

On claims that the oil palm industry was destroying forest biodiversity in developing countries, Oxley said in Malaysia, world’s second largest producer, the crop was restricted to 20 per cent of the state land allocated for agricultural purposes.

“Both Malaysia and Indonesia have set aside 55 per cent and 25 per cent respectively for forest conservation while the European average is 25 per cent.

“Both countries are also important contributors to programmes to protect endangered species such as the Orang Utan,” he said.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation had stated that deforestation was largely due to human settlement and not commercial crop, he added.

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Chin: Green Technology Dialogue To Create Economic Growth

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: Environmental Economics |

(Bernama) — The Malaysia-European Union (EU) Cooperation in Green Technology Dialogue will help to create a new economic growth, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui said Tuesday.

He said through the dialogue held here today, the private sector in EU countries is encouraged to look for investment opportunities in this country.

“The dialogue also signals an important message and commitment that going green is the way towards creating an economy that is based on sustainable development,” he told reporters here Tuesday.

Earlier, Chin hosted a dialogue with a delegation from the EU led by ambassador and head of delegation of the European Commission to Malaysia, Vincent Piket, and Swedish ambassador Helena Sangeland.

The dialogue discussed various cooperation initiatives in a number of areas, including policy, legal and regulatory frameworks, capacity building, joint project initiatives, and research and development.

In line with his, a fair trade on green technology event will be held in October next year as a platform for the private sector from EU countries to look for possible joint ventures, Chin said.

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Indonesia spot fires sending haze into Malaysia

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: Pollution |

JAKARTA – The number of haze-causing spot fires on Indonesia’s half of Borneo island have more than doubled since the start of the week, sending pollution into neighbouring Malaysia, officials said Tuesday.

“Today’s monitoring via satellite shows the increase in the number of hot spots is significant,” forestry ministry official Herman Prayitno told AFP.

On Tuesday 353 hot spots caused by land clearing were recorded in West and Central Kalimantan, on Borneo island, compared with 159 on Monday, Prayinto said.

“There have been 31,958 hot spots this year so far, compared with 31,000 over the whole of last year,” he said.

Fires used in slash-and-burn agriculture are the source of choking smoke that that shrouds the region annually during the dry season.

The website of Malaysia’s environment department said Tuesday that air pollution from fires had reached “unhealthy levels” in three areas in Sarawak state, which is also on Borneo.

Annual haze during the dry season, which ends around September, affects tourism and contributes to health problems across the region.

The haze often reaches mainland Malaysia and Singapore, frequently sending air pollution to unhealthy levels.

Indonesia’s government has outlawed land-clearing by fire but weak law enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.

Greenhouse gas emissions from forest fires and land-clearing in Indonesia have helped the country become the world’s third-largest contributor to climate change, according to some studies.

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Hill resort a gazetted wildlife reserve

Posted on September 28, 2009. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

-The  Star-

A WILDLIFE and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) spokesman said that the tarantula was not protected under the international CITES List of Endangered Species nor was it covered by the Protection of Wild Life Act 1972.

“Because of this, the tarantula is regarded as a free and common species,” the spokesman said.

He added that tarantulas living in the highlands such as Fraser’s Hill and Cameron Highlands were local species, while those sold at pet shops were mostly imported.

“Because it is a free, common species, conservationists usually will not carry out surveys of the population,” he said.

According to him, most insects were not protected under the Act except for a few butterflies and moths.

An officer with the Perhilitan office in Kuantan, Pahang, said there were people, mostly expatriates, who exported live insects and this was not illegal.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) communications head Andrew Sebastian was shocked to learn that since the tarantulas were not a protected species, there was nothing against trading it.

“Frasers’s Hill is a gazetted wildlife sanctuary and permanent forest reserve. Under the Forestry Act, this means that not even a piece of wood can be taken out.

“Every specimen that is indigenous should be afforded protection,” he said.

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No sanctuary for Fraser’s Hill spiders

Posted on September 28, 2009. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

-The Star-

FOR a mere RM500, one can buy a live tarantula straight from Fraser’s Hill.

The wait, however, could be indefinite, and any dealings with the seller will be carried out furtively.

Tarantula hunters on Fraser’s Hill have become more discreet after the authorities began monitoring them earlier this year.

StarMetro visited the hill resort recently to check on the situation. We visited one of the few restaurants at Fraser’s Hill and asked the owner about the tarantulas, considered a tourist attraction there.

The owner said tarantula-catching was a favourite pastime when he was younger.

“I knew where and when the tarantulas would come out and how to catch them. We would leave one in a bottle and it was harmless fun for us,” he added.

However, he did not know if there was anyone selling the arachnids.

“The tarantula population here has dwindled considerably. They used to be a common sight at night but it’s hard to spot them now.

“Perhaps too many have been caught or the weather is no longer favourable. It’s hardly cold here these days and there isn’t as much mist in the night,” he said.

At another shop, we asked the elderly man behind the counter if he knew of anyone selling tarantulas. He looked suspicious and asked how we knew that tarantulas were being sold in the area.

We told him that a friend had bought one to rear as a pet. He was satisfied with the answer and said he had to keep a low profile as there were many prying eyes who would report such activities to the authorities.

When offered RM500 for a tarantula, he said the price was right but it would take some time as he would have to catch the spider first.

However, during follow-up calls to the man, he claimed that he had not been able to catch a tarantula.

“It’s getting more difficult these days. A lot of people have disturbed the area so the tarantulas hardly come out of their burrows,” he claimed.

Local tourist guide K.S. Durai is among those against the sale of tarantulas.

“We don’t want people to disturb the nests. If the selling continues, then in a few years, the spiders will be gone,” Durai said.

He claimed that five years ago, the locals would sell the tarantulas to visitors but after being educated, many stopped.

“We also work closely with the police so if they spot anyone catching tarantulas, they would notify me and I would speak to them.

“We are working closely with the Wildlife Department to endorse tarantulas as a protected species,” Durai said.

Meanwhile, a check at a pet shop in Kuala Lumpur showed a lone tarantula being sold for RM450.

A pet shop employee claimed the tarantula was a local species. He also said one did not need a licence to keep it as a pet.

When contacted a week later, the employee said several im- imported species had been brought in and were being sold at RM180 each.

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Political will, commitment needed to curb illegal logging

Posted on September 27, 2009. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |


KUCHING: Sarawak needs to exert political will and commitment to eliminate or minimise illegal logging to earn the respect of the international community, Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation General Manager Datuk Len Talif Salleh said Sunday.

Len, who is also State Forests Department Director and Controller of Wildlife, said it could not be denied that some cases were detected but it was also important to get public support and the media to portray the positive aspects of the state authorities’ efforts to combat such illegal activities.

“We need to have an integrated approach to tackle these issues so that we have the respect of the international community because, in a way, they are all linked to our exports of these products (sawn timber and plywood),” he told reporters at his Hari Raya open house at Jalan Bako here.

Even though rewards would be offered to those providing information on illegal logging, he said, such a practice needed to be carried out carefully to prevent any abuse as the informer could turn out to be the culprit.

On the illegal sales of turtle eggs and other protected wildlife meat, he said, it was under control on the Sarawak side, especially on the turtle islands of Talang Talang and Satang as these items mostly came here through illegal means via the border village of Serikin from the Kalimantan Indonesian side.

Len said enforcement manpower would be beefed up along the border, including conducting operations in Serikin, about 45 minutes’ drive from here, on Sundays, when Indonesian traders normally came to sell their products at the weekend bazaar. –

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Perak to gazette ‘fenced up’ wetlands park

Posted on September 26, 2009. Filed under: Bio-diversity, Eco-tourism |


IPOH: The state government will gazette the Kinta Nature Park (KNP) as a wildlife sanctuary to prevent encroachment.

State Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman said gazetting the park would not take much time as the groundwork for it had been prepared when Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali was the Perak mentri besar.

“We will have to decide on which agency would manage and upgrade the facilities,” she told reporters after inspecting the park in Batu Gajah following complaints received from the Perak branch of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) yesterday.

“It will be a waste if a potential tourist attraction is neglected. The park is said to be the best place for bird watching in Malaysia.

Close inspection: Lee informing Hamidah about the encroachment at the Kinta Nature Park in Batu Gajah yesterday while Tan looks on. The island in the background is the heronry in the park.

“It is home to more than 130 species of birds and has the largest heronry in the country on one of its islands,” she said.

It was reported in The Star on Tuesday that the the park will lose the heronry if illegal activities continue there.

Almost 60% of the birds in the park are listed as totally protected or protected under the Protection of Wild Life Act 1976.

A recent check by the MNS revealed that someone had fenced up the whole lake where the heronry, with five breeding species of 2,000 waterbirds, is located with the intention of starting commercial fish farming.

The MNS had complained that pristine mining pools at the southern end of the Park have been taken over by duck farms and that incursions by sand extraction activities have increased.

The lack of a management body had resulted in the park’s infrastructure being damaged and fallen into disrepair.

Hamidah said the Park was managed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan).

”We would like the park to be managed by the Kampar district office with Perhilitan playing a monitoring role,” said Hamidah.

She agreed to look into a suggestion by MNS to place the park under the Perak State Parks Cor­poration.

Duck farms operating without a permit would have to stop operations Hamidah said, adding that she would discuss with the Kampar District Office not to renew the permits for sand mining in the park.

Accompanying her were MNS Perak branch vice-chairman Lee Ping Kong, MNS council member Tan Chin Tong and ornithologist Lim Kim Chye who is the MNS Perak Branch bird group coordinator.

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MPSJ gets tough on indiscriminate dumping

Posted on September 25, 2009. Filed under: Pollution, Waste |

-The Star-

THOSE who are nabbed for indiscriminate dumping will be slapped with a fine of up to RM2,000, Subang Jaya municipal councillor Tai Cheng Heng said.

“This problem has been going on for years. I believe this happens everywhere, but the situation in Seri Kembangan is deplorable.

Act of defiance: Rubbish is strewn around a sign prohibiting illegal dumping.

“Although Alam Flora workers clean the area, the problem persists.

“Each hawker has to manage the waste himself, instead of dumping it elsewhere. Enforcement officers will be stationed there to catch the culprits,” he said.

A check by StarMetro revealed that rubbish was thrown outside the compound of the Seri Kembangan multipurpose hall and into the drains.

Rubbish was also strewn around a sign prohibiting illegal dumping.

Shopowner Yau Kim Boi, who has been doing business in the area for the past 31 years, is one of those affected by the indiscriminate dumping as it is near her shop.

“The problem has been going on for almost 10 years, after the number of traders in the market increased.

“Although the Alam Flora workers come to clean the area every morning, some hawkers will dump their rubbish after the morning market closes, dirtying the place again,” she said.

She noticed that some traders who sold food would pour the excess soup into the drains.

Aside from the stench, she is also worried that the unhygenic condition would affect the health of residents.

“Of late, there are many mosquitoes and I’m using two fans to keep them away.”

Tai also encouraged the public to take photographs of those dumping rubbish indiscriminately so that they could be used as evidence in court.

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Holy cow! It’s a rubbish landslide

Posted on September 24, 2009. Filed under: Waste |

-The Star-

ULU YAM: Part of a hill built from rubbish collapsed near Bukit Sungai Kedah in Sungai Tua here, smashing into a nearby water barrier and flooding two cattle farms.

The incident happened late yesterday evening.

Workers of the two farms, with more than 300 cows, heard a loud crash and saw a huge amount of water washing away their animals and flooding the enclosure with up to three metres of water.

Teams from the Fire and Rescue Department, general forces and farm workers attempted for hours to try save the trapped cows.

Gombak deputy OCPD Supt Rosly Hassan when met at the scene, said they were still investigating the cause of the landslip and was unsure of the number of cows killed or trapped in the water.

He added that efforts were hampered as rescuers found it difficult to work in the dark.

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Burning answer to organic waste problem

Posted on September 24, 2009. Filed under: Waste |

-The Star-

MALAYSIANS are generating waste at an alarming rate, much faster than the natural degradation process and they are using up landfill space.

Statistics show that on average, Malaysians produce 0.8kg to 1.2kg of waste per day.

Up and running: The waste disposal facility is ready and the company hopes to encourage its use.

This is the garbage that is being disposed of into the rubbish bins and collected by the solid waste management concessionaire.

Although recycling, which will reduce the use of landfills, has almost drawn universal acceptance as a form of waste disposal, yet the national domestic recycling rate still hovers at around 5%, with a large portion of our waste still ending up in landfills.

Some of this waste is even dumped into drains, on the roadsides and at illegal dumpsites.

“We have heard about incinerators as an option to help dispose of waste but one of the biggest obstacles is the nature of our garbage.

“Our garbage is the wet type thus burning it becomes the biggest challenge to plans for an incinerator,” Azed Bina Sdn Bhd project engineer Mohd Nizar Mad Zin said.

Fire it up: A worker checking on the fire in the incinerator during one of the test runs.

The company, which is an engineering research company, has developed an environment-friendly system to recycle organic waste.

According to its statistics, 48% of recyclable waste generated in the country is from organic and food waste. This is the wet type of waste.

The other 52% is made up of paper (24%), rubber and plastic (9%), metal (6%), wood (5%), glass (4%) and textiles (4%).

“We do not have to worry about the non-organic waste as there are many companies that are willing to take them and people know that they can generate income from recycling these items.

“However, one of the main problems is recyclable organic and food waste.

“So far, no one is willing to recycle it and it usually ends up in the landfills,” Mohd Nizar said.

All done: A worker clearing out the incinerator at the plant.

Mohd Nizar said the system that Azed Bina had developed could process both dry and wet organic waste.

Dubbed the Bio-Waste Recycling System, the locally developed system is also able to recycle organic waste into renewable energy (heat and electricity) and ash, which could be used for the production of organic fertilizer.

He added that the sources of these organic waste include coconut shell and fibre, garden refuse, rotten and unwanted vegetables, chicken feathers, sugar cane fibres and kitchen waste.

Most of these wastes are generated by operators at wet markets, pasar malam, pasar tani, restaurants and even in home kitchens.

The project, which cost about RM3mil, was partly funded by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and was designed to recycle the wet organic waste.

“Dry organic waste like construction and garden refuse will be processed directly but the wet waste like rotting vegetables and food has to be dried first.

“Once it is dry, it will be burnt at about 700˚C to produce an organic ash, which is later used for organic fertiliser production,” Mohd Nizar said.

He said the whole process of bio-waste recycling took about one hour starting from the separation of dry and wet organic waste and feeding it into the burning chambers.

“The biogas produced is a clean heat and can be used for cooking, heating and even generating electricity via a generator,” he said.

He added that the system, which was completed last month, is now ready to begin operations.

It can process up to 10 tonnes of waste per day.

Studies have shown that about half of the organic waste buried in landfills cannot rot properly in the landfill and turns to black slime that produces methane, a gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

By recycling the waste, it can be put to good use.

Mohd Nizar added that using landfills was not environment- friendly and also cost more.

In 1998, it only cost RM50 per tonne to transport waste from the Kuala Lumpur city centre to the nearest dumpsite in Kepong, which was located about 20km away. The tipping fee (which each lorry has to pay upon entering the dumpsite) at the dumpsite was only RM5 per tonne.

Now, the garbage had to be taken to landfills located further away from the city centre. With more waste generated and higher fuel costs, the waste management company has to pay RM100 per tonne of garbage transported.

The Jeram Sanitary Landfill, which is located 61km away from Kuala Lumpur, is also charging a RM50 per tonne tipping fee for general waste and RM200 per tonne for organic waste.

By 2014, the landfills are expected to charge RM100 per tonne as a tipping fee for general waste and RM300 per tonne for organic waste from wet markets, restaurants and kitchens.

Mohd Nizar said the system was suitable for industries and claimed that it could help them save expenditure costs on energy in the long run.

The company is also talking to the local authorities to urge them to use the Bio-Waste Recycling System instead of using the existing landfills.

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