WWF-Malaysia’s Statement on the 4,515 Hectares Land Grant by the Terengganu State to TDM Berhad for Domestic Oil palm Plantation Expansion | WWF Malaysia

WWF-Malaysia’s Statement on the 4,515 Hectares Land Grant by the Terengganu State to TDM Berhad for Domestic Oil palm Plantation Expansion

Posted on 11 January 2018
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On 4 January 2018, it was announced that TDM Berhad accepted 4,515 hectares of land offered by the Terengganu State Government for its domestic oil palm plantation expansion plan. It was also reported that the Terengganu State has agreed to convert the 4,515 ha of land from Forest Reserve to Government Land. To compensate, the State will replace the affected areas with other lands as Forest Reserve, and TDM Berhad will make a payment of RM250 per hectare per annum to a trust fund for wildlife conservation and conflict management.

WWF-Malaysia strongly opposes this conversion of Forest Reserve land, as the conversion of primary or secondary forests to oil palm plantations, which is tantamount to large-scale deforestation, leads to significant loss of biodiversity, multiple direct and indirect socioeconomic impacts, and disruption of delicate ecosystems. There have been one too many occurrences of unnecessary deaths of iconic and endangered species in 2017 alone due to the above and, as a science-based organisation dedicated to the conservation of biological diversity, we are deeply concerned that insufficient measures are taken to protect our nature and wildlife.

Responsible production and sustainable consumption of palm oil through its entire supply chain, as supported by WWF-Malaysia, is vital to the maintenance of biological diversity and natural resources, protection and development of human and social rights, and the continued economic and financial growth of Malaysia. These goals can be achieved through the values of ethical conduct, with the commitment towards transparency and accountability. We believe that the palm oil industry can develop sustainably without further destroying rainforests or harming communities and endangering wildlife. While irresponsible palm oil development has had negative impacts on nature and people, the sustainable development of the palm oil industry has also enabled millions to escape poverty and improve livelihoods.

WWF-Malaysia believes that actions such as the degazettement of forest reserves is unnecessary and not in support of one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pledge, which is to halt deforestation by 2020. According to NGO Forest Trends, as of March 2017, 447 companies had made 760 commitments to curb forest destruction in supply chains linked to palm oil, soy, timber and pulp, and cattle. This commitment has been echoed by major palm oil producers, traders and buyers as well.

TDM Berhad, an oil palm plantations cultivator wholly owned by the state investment arm, Terengganu Inc Sdn Bhd, is also a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). One of RSPO’s main missions is to minimise tropical deforestation. In view of this, expanding oil palm plantations on degazetted forest reserves would not be an economically-sound decision, as it would most likely lead to a decrease or cessation of demand for palm oil and its derivatives from major industry players who have made a No-Deforestation pledge. As the Terengganu State Government has always maintained open channels of communication with WWF and supported our initiatives, we strongly urge the State to reconsider its decision in the degazettement of these forest reserves, and explore other more sustainable options to develop Terengganu.

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For more information, please contact:
Shajaratuldur Hashim
Communications Manager, Sustainable Markets Programme, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603-74503773
Email: shashim@wwf.org.my
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