What we do for environs is SAFE, says Najib

Posted on January 30, 2011. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |

-The Star- MALIAU BASIN: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said certain Western critics of Malaysia’s oil palm industry were taking a narrow view of the issue when they ignore the benefits of the industry to those who depend on it for their livelihood.

“The critics fail to understand we have a responsibility to our people who depend on oil palm and this does not include smallholders and companies.

“Compared to others, we are doing better in sustainable development and preservation of the environment,” Najib told reporters after launching the Maliau Basin Studies Centre and the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project that is set to become the world’s largest ecological experiment.

The 10-year study costing RM30mil is sponsored by Sime Darby and is undertaken by the Royal Society’s South-East Asia Rainforest Research Programme.

Earlier in his speech, he said the SAFE project was important as it was in line with Malaysia’s commitment to conservation and will help address many issues the world is facing, especially climate change, as a result of deforestation.

“This project will make a major contribution to understanding how biodiversity can be protected and maintained in our plantations.

“It will also assess how to balance the economic benefits of the oil palm industry with the need for environmental conservation and sustainable development,” he added.

Najib said that, to date, there has been no definitive study on the quantifiable impact of deforestation on wildlife, water quality, nutrient cycle and soil stability.

“At best, what we have are educated guesses which are not sufficient to make important decisions that could affect our environment.”

Najib said the project will help address the issue of deforestation and the impact of oil palm plantations properly.

“We need long-term, large scale ecological experiments like SAFE to give us concrete answers that can help guide any modifications in the way oil palm plantations are operated.”

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