photo: Marufish via flickr
Hopefully you're aware of the astonishingly high rate of deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia -- due in large part to logging and conversion of land to plantation agriculture. In Malaysia, 82% of remaining forest cover is managed in special protected reserves, which allow selective logging. Which doesn't sound so bad, until you learn that the Malaysian government now allows single-species plantations to be classified as 'forest' and is encouraging converting actual forest to latex-timber plantations. Mongabay provides the details:Referencing a recent article in the Malaysian Star (no online version of the article unfortunately), up to 80% of these remaining intact forests are at risk of being converted into plantations, and the official forestry stats won't show the difference.
These plantations will be monocultures of cloned trees from which latex is harvested initially and then can be felled for timber.
375,000 Hectares of Plantations by 2020
By 2020, the government hopes to have 375,000 hectares of plantations, including ones of African mahogany, teak, Acacia, and other timber trees, in addition to the "favored" latex-timber clones.
So basically, biologically diverse forest areas which government reports classify as environmentally sensitive will be replaced with what are essentially ecological deserts containing one plant species grown in neat little rows.
Let's Hope/Prevent the Idea From Spreading
If it weren't so serious you'd just have to laugh at the notion of a rubber plantation being classified as a forest, but unfortunately the amount of genuine forest Malaysia has lost to logging and plantations precludes really laughing at this point. Let's just hope other nations don't get the misguided notion that classifying monoculture tree plantations as forest is a good idea
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