01 Feb 2011:
Rapid Destruction of Peat Forests
Documented by Conservationists in Malaysia
Using satellite images and other data, two conservation groups have documented the rapid destruction of peat forests and rainforests in Malaysia
for the expansion of oil palm plantations. Wetlands
Click to enlarge
Peat deforestation and oil palm plantations, 2005-2010
International and the Netherlands-based remote sensing group, Sarvision, say that from 2005 to 2010 nearly 900,000 acres of species-rich peatswamp forests were destroyed in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo. That figure represents 10 percent of all Sarawak’s forests and a third of all its peatswamp forests. “Unless this trend is halted, none of these forests will be left at the end of the decade,” said the report
from the conservation groups. Malaysia is the world’s second-largest producer of palm oil, with 45 percent of global production, and the Malaysian government has said that no more than 20 percent of Sarawak’s peat forests have been cleared for oil palm plantations. But using satellite photos, on-the-ground surveys, and other data, Wetlands International and Sarvision documented far greater destruction. Wetlands International called for an immediate end to draining peat forests, saying forest clearing for oil palm plantations in Malaysia is adding 20 million metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere each year.
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