Why no action against errant planters?

Monday, 11 November 2013

An aerial view of the area.
KOTA KINABALU: A month after exposing the continued practice of riparian encroachment by the oil palm industry in the Kinabatangan, Datuk Pang Yuk Ming the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment (MTCE) was briefed on the lack of action by authorities.

“A month is enough time to see some action taken against the errant oil palm plantation which is brazenly planting new oil palms right on the riverbanks of the Kinabatangan River directly next to two protected areas,” said Dr. Benoit Goossens, Director of the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) located in Lot 6 of the fully protected Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS) next to the plantation.

DGFC along with sustainable tourism and conservation initiative MESCOT and research based conservation NGO HUTAN had voiced concerned about the recent replanting of new oil palms located about 10 minutes by boat from the village of Batu Puteh, without having any form of buffer which could result in leakages of herbicides and pesticides right into the river.

The Kinabatangan River is home to the Orang Sungai community and iconic wildlife species such as the orang-utans, proboscis monkeys and the Bornean elephants which are found only in Sabah and across the border in Indonesia Kaliamantan.
Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment being briefed by Dr. Benoit Goossens, Director of the Danau Girang Field Centre on the current situation on the issue of new oil palm plantings along the Kinabatangan.
The MTCE had publicly stated that they were aware of the matter and that the State Government would not deal lightly with such errant acts.

“We get international visiting scientist and conservationist at our Centre, MESCOT’s tourism site in also located directly opposite this oil palm plantation in another fully protected area of the Class VI Pin-Supu Virgin Jungle Reserve.

“This puts the State Government in an awkward situation when these visitors are told that the plantations have been instructed not to plant onto the riparian but still new plantings are taking place,” shared Goossens.

In July 2007, the then Federal Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid together with Kinabatangan MP, Datuk Bung Mokthar had cut down oil palms planted on the riverbank following the State Government warning in May 2006 against such practices.

“We keep on talking but on the ground the environment is deteriorating everyday, the longer we wait the harder it is to set things right, let’s act now,” concluded Goossens.

Borneo Insider


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