December 4, 2005
Palm Oil Tree Plantations vs. the Orang-utans
Environmental groups have been expressing their concern regarding the rainforests and orang-utans of Sarawak, Malaysia. The issue was reported in an article by Ben Sutherland from the BBC World Service News titled â€œMalaysia hits out at palm oil â€˜smearsâ€™â€? (news.bbc.co.uk). Chief Minister of Sarawak, Pehin Sri HajI Abdul Tai Mahmud is facing opposition from environmental groups such as â€œFriends of the Earthâ€? who are against palm oil tree plantations being planted. The concern is that planting the trees is destroying the habitat of the orang-utans of the area. Even though ten percent of the land is designated to protecting the rainforests, only 2,000 of these animals are living in the state. However, the article does not mention if this makes the species endangered or threatened. According to a case study by Nokia Global, â€œthe orang-utan is among the most endangered Malaysian wildlife speciesâ€? (http://www.nokia.com/link?cid=EDITORIAL_945).
The timber industry fells nine to ten million cubic meters of logs each year, and this is also a complaint made by environmental activists. On the other hand, the Malaysian government claims that the plantations of palm oil trees are not destroying rain forests. Instead, they are built on previously cleared areas. One needs to watch out for the journalists who are looking for any potential environmental issue to blow out of proportion. The harm to orang-utans, for instance, was based on a study carried out before the palm oil trees were planted. This makes their study based on other factors that could be unrelated to the plantations. Also, the media coverage on the issue was written by those who had never even been to the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. However, the article does not mention that the United Kingdom is buying huge amounts of palm oil from Malaysia. Therefore, the article could be biast to supporting the growth of the trees and diminishing the environmental authenticity of the issue. The only safe conclusion to be made from this article is that plantations of palm oil trees are being planted legally because they are not in the regions of protected rainforests. However, one cannot ignore the fact that orang-utans are severally endangered in Malyasia. What is this contributed to? More research would be required to accurately identify their disappearance.
Posted by at December 4, 2005 12:07 PM | 2. In the News