WASHINGTON, D.C. (PRNewswire) — A number of environmental groups have unfairly and inaccurately misled the public about the palm oil industry's positive efforts to minimize environmental impact and maintain animal habitats, especially in Malaysia. A recent press release issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has unfortunately mischaracterized the Malaysian palm oil industry's long-standing efforts in sustainability and environmental protection, by using inaccurate accounts of deforestation to explain changes in wildlife populations. The organization mentions the work of two Girl Scouts who link palm oil production to effects on the orangutan population in Malaysia and Indonesia; however it overlooks important efforts being undertaken in Malaysia that would provide a full perspective on the story.
Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron, CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council confirms that, "The palm oil industry adheres faithfully to all national wildlife and land stewardship laws in Malaysia and not only abides by, but far exceeds, United Nations standards on forest preservation and land use. Furthermore, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council established a Wildlife Conservation Fund with an expansive suite of programs designed to encourage further initiatives that focus on conserving land usage and minimizing environmental impact as well as educating the public on the country's wildlife heritage. The program has dedicated tens of millions of ringgit in hopes of conserving Malaysia's wild treasures."
The Malaysian government, along with numerous international conservation partners and the palm oil industry, has actively worked to preserve Malaysia's precious forest lands while at the same time making palm oil production more efficient and sustainable. Currently, 56% of Malaysian land is retained as forest for biodiversity conservation purposes and the government has pledged to maintain at least 50% as permanent forests, well above the 10% standards set by United Nations convention. As a result of ongoing efforts to maintain wildlife populations and preserve natural resources, large forest preserves in Sabah and Sarawak, part of the island of Borneo, have been established to provide safe harbor for native wildlife populations, including orangutans, and are banned from conversion to farmland.
"The palm oil industry takes conservation and environmental sustainability very seriously," says Dr. Kalyana Sundram, COO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council. "We have been committed to not only adhering to government and international regulations, but to proactively engaging in practices and programs that relieve the stresses of agriculture on the environment and local wildlife."
The American Palm Oil Council, a U.S. association representing the Malaysian palm oil industry, works to educate the American public about the benefits of palm oil, which is used around the world in food applications, biofuel, soaps, candles, and other products. More information can be found at http://www.americanpalmoil.com/.