Experts: Develop peatlands responsibly

25 November 2004
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KOTA SAMARAHAN: Tropical peatlands, including the ones found in Malaysia, should be developed and managed through a “wise use” approach, an international research team has suggested. 

Prof Jack Rieley of Britain’s University of Nottingham said the approach refers to responsible ways of using peatlands without causing undue damage. 

“It’s about the use of tropical peatlands for which reasonable people now and in the future will not attribute blame. Stakeholders would need to think through the consequences of how they use peatlands,” he said yesterday. 

Prof Rieley, a member of the “Strategies for Implementing Sustainable Management of Peatlands in Borneo” project, said the approach involved developing mechanisms to balance conflicting demands on peatlands such as agriculture, forestry and conservation. 

It also encouraged sectoral development of peatlands as well as conservation and non-use strategies to ensure sustainability, he said at a seminar on the project’s findings at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak here. 

Researchers from 12 institutions in Europe, Malaysia and Indonesia took part in the three-year project, which concluded recently, to formulate and implement wise use strategies for peatlands in Sarawak and Kalimantan. 

Sarawak Environment and Public Health Minister Datuk Michael Manyin, who opened the seminar, urged the researchers to study whether the state’s fire danger rating system could be extended to peat soil. 

The weather-based system which gives early warning of possibilities of fire enables plantations to carry out controlled open burning when the air pollution index is below 100. 

At present, the system is meant for plantations on mineral soil only. 

“According to plantation developers, oil palm planted on peat soil has a 30% higher yield than those planted on mineral soil,” Manyin said. 

The above article was taken from The Star – dated November 25 2004, Thursday 


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