The Oil Palm

Sabah’s Director of Forestry on French TV5 Monde Answers Questions on Palm Oil

As part of its ongoing Q&A series, The Oil Palm has interviewed Datuk Sam Mannan, Sabah’s Director of Forestry and lifelong conservation expert. After joining the Sabah Forestry Department in 1980, Datuk Mannan has risen to become one of Malaysia’s most respected authorities on forestry related matters and an internationally acclaimed spokesperson on good forest management.

Recently, he has also featured in a documentary on palm oil, development and conservation broadcast by French TV station TV5 Monde. This recent documentary showcases Sabah’s commitment to pursuing the dual track of development and conservation, and highlights the oil palm’s significant contribution to this goal. In the documentary, Datuk Mannan notes the oil palm’s ‘vital contribution’ to the state’s conservation programs and he provides an overview of the strict laws and regulations on forest protection implemented in Sabah.

Similarly, in his exclusive video interview with The Oil Palm, Datuk Mannan explains that today, 60 per cent of Sabah is still under forest cover and income from forestry has declined from 90 per cent to 5 per cent of the state government’s revenue. Datuk Mannan explains that this achievement would not have been possible without revenue from oil palm cultivation, which has financed many of the state’s conservation efforts. He tells The Oil Palm how the oil palm, has become a substitute for revenue generation for the government of Sabah and has provided thousands of jobs and uplifted thousands of people from abject poverty.

Datuk Mannan also talks of the Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP), an orang-utan conservation initiative encompassing 300,000 hectares of forest surrounding Danum Valley. This area has been defined by the United Nations Environment Programme as a (model area for the conservation of Great Apes. Datuk Mannan believes that if the orangutan is to survive as a species on Earth, this has the highest likelihood of happening in Sabah.

In a world of limited resources, Datuk Mannan tells The Oil Palm that we must favor crops that offer the highest socio-economic return. The oil palm is such a crop. And the oil palm industry has an established track record of contributing, substantial amounts of money for conservation, forest restoration and wildlife management.

The boycott of palm oil advocated by some Western NGOs, will not help the environment, the NGOs, the government or the people; says Datuk Mannan. Removing such a competitive oil crop will negatively affect the livelihoods of millions of people in Malaysia and greater areas of land will have to be cleared to substitute for the oil palm’s superior productivity. As Datuk Mannan points out, conservation cannot take place without the financing of it. In Sabah, oil palm development and conservation efforts have taken place side by side. Today, oil palm development – on land reserved for agricultural production – continues to complement forest management and forest conservation, by financing the efforts being undertaken by agencies like the Forestry Department and the Wildlife Department.

Come and watch the full Q&A interview here and learn more about the oil palm’s contribution to conservation efforts in Sabah.

The documentary on palm oil featuring Sabah’s Director of Forestry, Datuk Sam Mannan, will also be broadcast again on TV5 Monde this Saturday at 11.45 AM. Don’t miss it!