Friday, April 13, 2012

Palm oil industry not a threat to orang utans

CONSERVATION EFFORTS - Stakeholders, wildlife departments and NGOs such as MPOC have also taken steps to protect the ape species

ORANG utan, a great ape species and one of Malaysia's darling icons, has been at the centre of the most debated issues among the local palm oil industries as well as local and western non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Efforts have been made by the local palm oil industry stakeholders and local wildlife departments and NGOs such as Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and the Sabah wildlife department to protect the orang utans as well as to attest to the Western Environmental NGOs (WENGOs) of their claims that the local palm oil industry is threatening the survival of the orang utans.

MPOC chief executive officer Tan Sri Yusof Basiron told Business Times in an exclusive interview that the council has set up Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOCWF) in 2006 for the local palm oil industry to actively participate in the conservation of wildlife biodiversity in Malaysia.

He added that the MPOCWF was set up partly in response to the many, often unfounded accusations from WENGOs that the palm oil industry was on a blatant path of destruction.

MPOCWF has a revolving fund of RM20 million, with half of the amount being contributed by the government and the other half from the industry, pulled out of MPOC's own reserves, he said.

The creation of the fund has allowed the MPOC to directly negotiate with interested parties that are able to bring the required expertise and propose meaningful studies and actions.

"We hope in the long-term these could allow the harmonised and caring existence between the palm oil industry and fulfills the need to maintain and preserve conservation of both flora and fauna throughout our country," said Yusuf.

Some of MPOCWF's initiatives include undertaking a survey of the orang utan population in Sabah. The survey was completed and allowed MPOC to map out many of their dwelling sites and ascertain their numbers.

The survey was done with Sabah Wildlife Department, the French NGO Hutan and Borneo Conservation Trust.

A grant was given to the Malua BioBank in Sabah to undertake studies on wildlife and potential conflict with forested areas and fringes of oil palm plantations.

MPOCWF funded test rope bridges within Malua to see if orang utans in the wild are capable of using man made bridges aimed at functioning as corridors connecting to the isolated populations.

MPOCWF, along with Sabah Forestry Department, has helped establish an active jungle patrol to monitor and act against poaching of protected wildlife.

The fund was used to work with Sarawak Forestry Cooperation to monitor wildlife especially orang utan in several protected areas in Sarawak that share common boundaries with oil palm plantations.

Continue reading at: Palm oil industry not a threat to orang utans

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