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MAY 22 every year has been proclaimed as International Day for Biological Diversity by the United Nations.

This year’s theme From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity is in line with activities to conserve biodiversity by the Malaysian Palm Oil Green Conservation Foundation (MPOGCF) – a leading green conservation agency under the Ministry of Plantations and Commodities.

Since April 2021, MPOGCF has collaborated with various federal and state government agencies, local governments, non-government organisations and industry players to rehabilitate degraded forests and, to engage in reforestation as well as rehabilitation of wildlife habitat.

MPOGCF’s conservation projects are in line with recommendations by international organisations – including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA) – as conservation is the best action to protect flora and fauna while improving the quality of life of local communities.

The foundation’s One Million Trees Planting Project aims to recover 2,500 hectares of degraded areas in Ulu Segama-Malua Forest Reserve Lahad Datu in Sabah and rehabilitate orangutan habitats.

This simultaneously benefits local communities in Kampung Tampenau in Lahad Datu as the project brings them job opportunities related to conservation, such as tree planting and maintenance.

From October 2021 to April 2023, MPOGCF planted about 80,000 trees from 12 species on 225 hectares of covered area at a cost of RM1.1mil.

MPOGCF is also collaborating with the Kuala Terengganu city council (MBKT) to develop water catchment areas in the city centre into a conservation and biodiversity education park for research by institutions of higher learning, and to raise awareness of biodiversity among the public.

A variety of trees were planted, particularly endangered species, with the palm oil industry under an RM1mil fund by MPOGCF for the project.

MPOGCF is also working with Sime Darby Plantations to rehabilitate 400 hectares of peat land at Lavang Estate in Bintulu, Sarawak.

For this project, MPOGCF is funding RM1.5mil to plant 300,000 seedlings on 50 hectares of the total area to rejuvenate the natural ecosystem. These projects offer local communities opportunities for additional income.

MPOGCF signed agreements with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) – with allocations of RM600,000 and RM450,000 respectively – to fund two research projects on biodiversity in oil palm plantations in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.

Other high-impact projects for the industry that are still being finalised include:

> Survey on the Borneo orangutan and elephant population in Sabah.

> Napier grass planting for borneo elephants at the wildlife corridor in Brumas, Tawau.

> Elephant corridor study in Jeli, Kelantan.

> Forest conservation at the Central Forest Spine of Peninsular Malaysia.

Biodiversity loss in the oil palm plantation sector is considerably lower than in the mining sector and livestock expansion, as the plantation sector replaces trees with trees, and impacts occur only at the outset of tree planting.

We are confident that these conservation initiatives will help the country protect biodiversity and the sustainability of the Malaysian palm oil industry in the global market.