Conserve our rain forests

OVER the decades, Malaysia's tropical rain forests have served the pivotal role in conserving an array of flora and fauna, with an abundant number of unique mammals and bird species.

However, it is quite astonishing that Malaysia is manifested with the highest forest degradation rate between 2000 and 2012, according to the new global forest map in collaboration with Google.

It is worth mentioning that the forest area loss during the period is estimated at 14.4% of its year 2000 forest cover. The depletion translates to 47,278 sq km, an area even larger than Denmark.

Therefore, to make a sizeable impact on the overall protection of rain forests Malaysia must adopt a holistic approach, which should be clearly defined in upcoming days.

During my literature search, I came across so many references indicating that Malaysia suffered an extensive natural capital base in the last five years. In fact, the most affected part is the densest forest (Core Zone) with 50% tree cover, the richest carbon store and a variety of wildlife.

In my opinion, exorbitant propagation of palm oil industries across the nation is the major contributing factor of Peninsular Malaysia's forest degradation. Even though the palm oil industry is now a political force to be reckoned with, it cannot be utilised at the expense of natural resources.

A recent survey by Nasa Landsat cameras depicted the global forest cover depletion. I would like to quote, Mathew Hansen, project's lead developer: ''With our global mapping of forest changes every nation has access to this kind of information, for their own country and the rest of the world."

Having said this, it is the responsibility of every civilian to look after mother nature. Therefore, I wish to emphasise that there should be a thorough management policy to make people aware of the outcome of forest depletion and ensure that it stops now.

The take home message: Only one species on earth can sustain the existence of itself and others and, of course, that is human beings. It is the correct time to pull your socks up before it's too late.

Dr Tapash Rudra
Department of Biotechnology
Faculty of Science
Lincoln University College