Schooling Barracuda and Diver by Dave Bretherton
Barracuda point, Sipadan.
White Tip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus) by Dave Bretherton
I don’t think Malaysia realizes the value of their forests. Or they do and they don’t care. In addition to the above, they actively promote the conversion of tropical rainforest into palm oil plantations. I’ve had a tour guide tell me all about their lush and beautiful palm oil “forests”. More like face palm, Sir.
Huge schooling bumphead parrotfish in Sabah/Borneo, Malaysia
by Jürgen Freund
A weekend dive break to Tioman Island, Malaysia. My friends and I escaping the infinity shopping complex that is Singapore.
While palm oil biofuel production is a major source of income for Malaysia, clear-cutting the rain forest for the palm plantations also has dramatic ecological and social costs. Palm oil biofuel production growth is fuelling the rapid clearing of the most biodiverse tropical forest in the world, endangering species that need this habitat. In addition, forests contain large quantities of carbon which are released when they are burnt to make space for farming. Photographer Daniel Kukla started photographing the palm plantations in Borneo in October 2010:
“For me, the word ‘Borneo’ conjured up vivid dreams of lush impenetrable rain forests teeming with life. Upon my arrival to the island of Borneo I was confronted by the reality of this place where huge tracts of old growth rain forest have been cleared for oil palm plantations. After many long drives through the countryside seeing only palm plantations, I wanted to see the landscape might look like from a different vantage point. I took a small propeller plane around the southern part of Sabah to get this aerial shot. Despite the strange beauty to the verdant parallel lines and snaking dirt roads, I felt a sinking feeling while I was photographing. So much has already been lost and the plantations continue to eat away into the landscape.”
Exactly how I felt when I went. Couldn’t believe the expanse of it.
Ignorance is no longer an excuse for wildlife criminals, with awareness signboards on wildlife crime penalties built around Gerik town, near Malaysia’s Belum-Temengor Forest Complex.
Belum-Temengor is though to be the oldest forest in the world, even older than the Amazon and the Congo. It is one of the most serene places I’ve ever visited, and it’s exciting to see some progress!
The Malaysian government will spend 24 million ringgit ($7.7 million) in 2011 and 2012 to counter criticism over the social and environmental impact of palm oil, reportsANTARA.
Deputy Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin said Malaysia would “promote the advantages” of palm oil relative to other alternatives. He added that conversion of rainforests for oil palm plantations “is not damaging the environment,” citing Malaysia’s current forest cover as proof.
“In Malaysia, the total land area covered by forests is 56.4 per cent,” he said.
Malaysia is the world’s second largest producer of palm oil after Indonesia. It has roughly 4.5 million hectares of oil palm plantations.
Malaysia aims to increase production over the next decade by improving productivity across existing plantations and targeting roughly a million hectares of indigenous forest land in Sarawak, a state in Malaysian Borneo. Environmentalists and human rights activists complain that planned expansion will run roughshod over traditional communities while destroying large areas of rainforest.
Past and current efforts by Malaysia to defend palm oil against criticism have met mixed reviews. In 2009 Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a group that regulates advertisements, banned a “misleading” ad by the palm oil industry. Bloggers and journalists have also complained about a deluge of comment spam whenever they post an article critical of palm oil.
The oil palm is the world’s most productive commercial oil seed. Palm oil is used widely as a cooking oil and in processed food products, cosmetics, and cleaning agents. Europe is considering importing palm oil biodiesel to help meet renewable fuels targets, although recent scientific research indicates that greenhouse gas emissions savings from switching to palm oil from conventional fossil fuels are non-existent when forests and peatlands are cleared to produce palm oil.
MAKES ME SO ANGRY! NOT DAMAGING TO THE ENVIRONMENT????? AARRRGGGHH
How a monoculture can be more advantageous over the biologically productive ecosystem is beyond me. A ploy for instant monetary gratification - no doubt it supports many thousands of plantation workers - but the price paid in the long term comes out of everyone’s, not just Malaysian’s pockets.
To call it anything else is adding insult to injury. “Not damaging” as evidenced by Malaysia’s “56.4 per cent forest cover”? Conveniently legislation was passed to name monoculture as “forest”. It’s so transparent I can’t believe they are even trying.
I’m heartbroken by this news. Malaysia is where I fell in love with Rainforests. And I love the country, the food, the people, the language. But I grew up watching rubber plantations turn to palm oil, and then spread and spread until there are literally just pockets of Rainforest left on the Peninsula, let alone the unchecked pillage of Sabah’s forests. Now they’re going after Sarawak?
Malaysia should be proud of it’s natural reserves, not in it’s ability to decimate them.
MALAYSIA TRULY ASIA? What. ever.
Photo by Karen Chen
Keeping a respectful distance from a huge mamma Green Turtle after a whole nights efforts. She lay two decoy nests before finally settling down to business. We could hear her panting from the effort, and the force with which she was digging the sand was painful.
If you ever get a chance to witness this, here’s a few pointers:
- Be patient, she’s gonna be there a long time. Bring a jumper, it’s likely to be in the middle of the night. That’s cold no matter where you are.
- Keep a safe distance, that sand is painful, plus if you disturb her, she won’t come back to the same beach to nest next time. Think of it as bad bedside manner in a hospital. And she always comes back to the same beach from which she was born, so don’t mess with that.
- Don’t use any torches. That’ll disorientate her. She’s relying on the moon or lack of it. Plus they don’t got good eyes anyway.
- Silence. Observe it.
- Under no circumstances ‘ride’ her on her way back to the sea, as they did in Terengganu, Malaysia, which, coincidentally, no longer has Sea Turtles nesting on it’s beaches.
Jack fish in Sipadan, Borneo, Malaysia | image by John Hill
This exact thing happened to me when I, through haphazard circumstance, went to Sipadan. It took my breath away, which isn’t the best thing when you’re diving!