Sarawak Government Committed to Sustainable Development of Palm Oil Plantations

By Asia Newswire, PRNE
Sunday, March 27, 2011

KUCHING, Sarawak, Malaysia, March 29, 2011 - The State Government of Sarawak's Agricultural Policy prioritises
sustainable management of biodiversity as part of its strategy for the growth
of palm oil plantation. Sarawak has a total land mass of 12.4 million
hectares, of which 70% is under forest cover and 14% is secondary forest. 13%
of the land is used for agriculture and the remaining 3% compromise
settlements and water bodies. Currently the state has allocated 700,000
hectares of peatlands for palm oil cultivation or approximately 6% of the
state's total land area. Palm oil cultivation accommodates 39% of peatland
and 3% of non-peat hillforests; in all, agriculture takes up 43% of Sarawak's
total peatlands and 8% of non-peat forests.

Sarawak fully acknowledges the importance of its peatlands not only as
part of the global carbon sink but more so for the livelihood of the local
communities that reside along the coastal peatland areas. The majority of
Sarawak's population live along the coastal regions which immediately border
the peatland areas and are very much dependent on them for natural reservoirs
of freshwater and act as buffer against floods and saline intrusion.

Sarawak has undertaken several major peatland initiatives as follows:-

- A feasibility study under the Integrated Coastal Zone
Management [ICZM] initiative done in 1998, which provided
recommendations to the State which are adhered to till this day;

- Development and implementation of guidelines on water
management for agriculture in coastal peatland areas of Sarawak,
which include best practice in planning, assessment, design and
implementation of water management systems for agricultural activities in
coastal peatlands;

- Allocating biodiversity conservation areas within the
peatlands and water catchment
areas which serve as a safe water supply source for the
coastal population;

- Establishment of the Tropical Peat Research Laboratory Unit
(TPRL) to ensure a more accurate assessment of the impact of development
on peat swamp forests.

For peatland palm oil cultivation, the State Government ensures that a
series of sustainable project management schemes are implemented and not
merely done through indiscriminate clear felling or bulldozing. These project
components include an integrated water management system which is a
combination of drainage, sub-irrigation and water conservation to enhance
sustainable agricultural land use.

Sarawak has also imposed as a legal requirement that an Environmental
Impact Assessment (EIA) be carried out to ensure that palm oil development
will not jeopardise the environmental integrity of the areas cultivated. The
State has set a target of 25% of its land mass for various agricultural

The Sarawak Government remains fully committed to fulfilling its
responsibility and obligations to the people of Sarawak, and will ensure the
country progresses like any other country in the world and the Government
will continue to manage its environment sustainably.

Press Office/ Email: media at Phone: +60-138269132

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