The effectiveness of peatland plantation management has prevented peat fires from breaking out in Sarawak’s plantations.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem attributed this to research conducted on the type of soil at its Tropical Peat Research Laboratory (TPRL).
The laboratory had recommended that such soil type should be kept compacted and moist, he said.
“This is the state government’s commitment towards protecting the environment as it has 1.6 million hectares of peat soil areas,” Adenan said in his keynote address at the 15th International Peat Congress today.
More than 1,000 delegates from over 30 countries are attending the five-day conference which began yesterday, the first to be held in Asia.
Adenan said the state government had realised the enormous potential of peatland being developed, especially for oil palm cultivation.
“This is now one of the fastest growing industries and a major contributor to its total export value last year at 10 per cent.”
Meanwhile, the chief minister noted that tropical peatland, as compared to other soil types was “still quite an understudied soil.”
“As a result, there have been numerous criticisms to our usage of peatland. We accept them but before that, give us the opportunity to state our case with scientific evidence,” he said.
Adenan said Sarawak had set up the TPRL in 2008 to develop scientific, technical knowledge and a clear understanding of the sustainability of oil palm cultivation on tropical peat.
He said among others, TPRL had established through its scientific research, that carbon dioxide emissions from peatland with oil palm plantations were half of those claimed by uninformed bodies.
“The carbon emission from these plantations are actually lower than those from undisturbed peatland or forest.”