Sustainable Forest Governance should be adopted to preserve bio-diversity

– World Environment Day 2010 Message (National)- Sustainable forest governance should be adopted, wildlife corridor and people’s livelihoods should be preserved or restored in the forest conversion for the well-being and sustainable future for our children.

This year, the theme of the United Nations World Environment Day is “Many Species. One Planet. One Future”, it echoes the urgent call to conserve the diversity of life on our planet.

The latest Global Biodiversity Outlook report points out that all governments have failed to achieve biodiversity targets set in 2002. Human activities have caused the massive clearing of the original forest and wetlands, depleted three quarters of all fish stocks, and emitted enough heat-trapping gases to keep our planet warming for centuries to come. The destruction of the natural world costs the global economy some $2 to $5 trillion every year. All of us have to bear the consequences from the loss of biodiversity that bring negative impacts to our clean water, fertile soil, flood protection, food and medicines, and livelihoods for the people.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon calls to stop this mass extinction and raise awareness about the vital importance of the millions of species that inhabit our planet’s soils, forests, oceans, coral reefs and mountains. Our health, well-being and sustainable future depend on this intricate, delicate web of ecosystems and life.

I am puzzled by the contradictory statement made by Minister of Plantation Industries Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun recently .

Despite the criticisms from the international society on our forest conversion policies recent years, at the opening of International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference (IPOSC) 2010 last week, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok insisted that the government practices very healthy balance in land use policy, and also aims to operate its plantation in harmony with wildlife, the biodiversity and environment.

However, Datuk Masidi has alarmed everyone by pointing out that rare species such as, Sumatran rhinoceros, the pygmy elephant, the Bornean orang-utan, the sun bear and the proboscis monkey in Sabah are under threat of extinction due to the forest conversion that causes loss and fragmentation of their habitat.

He also warned that: “In some cases, there is probably only one rhino in a whole forest reserve. If urgent steps are not taken to rescue and consolidate these fragmented populations, our generation may be the last one to see wild rhinos alive in Sabah.”

Not only the wild life, our fellow natives Malaysians especially those in Sarawak and Sabah have also lost their customary lands to the plantation companies due to the bad governance.

The Federal Government should stop being in the state-of-denial when dealing with the controversial forest and land conversion. Immediate action such as preserving and restoring wildlife corridor should be taken to preserve our biodiversity. We not only want to gain back the confidence and trust of the international society for our palm oil products, but also the well-being and sustainable future for our children.

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