Helping Europe see the forest for the trees


By LAM LI
  • Nation
  • Monday, 26 May 2003

BY LAM LI

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will embark on another campaign to counter allegations in Europe against the country’s forestry and palm oil industries. 

The campaign will start with a trade delegation to Europe led by Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik, who will meet European officials and environmental organisations to counter the allegation. 

Dr Lim’s two-week official visit to Europe – covering Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Denmark – is aimed at clearing allegations that categorised the two industries as environmentally damaging through deforestation. 

“I am going to assure our European counterparts that Malaysia sources timber through sustainable forest management. 

“The Malaysia Timber Certification is of credible standard as audit and examination procedures to ascertain the sustainability of our forests are performed by independent international firms. 

“At the same time, the Government has banned the import of logs from countries that failed to subscribe to sustainable management of forests such as in Indonesia,” he told reporters yesterday after a ground-breaking ceremony for the second tower of the Gerakan's Menara PGRM. 

Malaysia banned logs from Indonesia in 2000 to curb rampant illegal logging and smuggling activity. Recently, the Government detected false declaration of logs imported from Indonesia but declared as from places such as Soloman Islands. 

Dr Lim said the practice had come under scrutiny as authorities now required all importers to show bona fide proof of country of origin of timber. 

He added another issue of concern was allegations made by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) in Sweden that massive rainforest destruction due to overly aggressive plantation companies opening up land for oil palm plantations had led to loss of orang utan habitat. 

“I will personally meet and explain to environment commissioners and related NGOs our palm oil policy. We are the biggest palm oil exporter in the world with an established system in place. There is no need to clear forests and replace them with palm trees,” he said.  

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