Satellite view of the Bikam Forest Reserve in 2011. The last stands of keruing paya (Dipterocarpus coriaceus) in Peninsular Malaysia were wiped out when Bikam Forest Reserve in Perak was cleared for oil palm plantations in 2013. Photo: Google Earth

30 July 2013 (mongabay.com) – Oil palm plantations have extinguished the last habitat of a rainforest tree in Malaysia, reports the New Straits Times.

Last week the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), a state agency, announced that the last stands of keruing paya (Dipterocarpus coriaceus) in Peninsular Malaysia were wiped out when Bikam Forest Reserve in Perak was cleared for oil palm plantations. The plantations were established after Bikam was de-gazetted, or re-zoned from a logging concession for conversion to oil palm. More than 450 hectares of forest were cleared.

Maketab Mohamed, president of the Malaysian Nature Society, told the New Straits Times that experts had warned about the risk of de-gazetting the permanent forest estate for oil palm.

"It is indeed a shocking find but this phenomenon did not happen overnight," he was quoted as saying. "The extinction was caused by the act of the state which de-gazetted forest reserves for oil palm plantations over a long period of time."

Data released by NASA in June showed a spike in deforestation in Perak between January and March 2013.

Mohamed noted that the species, which like other dipterocarps has commercial timber value, is found only in the southern Perak region.

"The Bikam forest reserve was identified as the last largest natural habitat for the trees," he said. "But even that habitat is now gone; becoming a victim of exploitation of the forest for oil palm cultivation." [more]

Palm oil drives Malaysian rainforest tree to extinction


What is left of the keruing paya’s natural habitat after the de-gazetted Bikam permanent forest reserve near Bidor was cleared by a timber contractor for an oil palm plantation. Pic: Rosman Shamsudin/ NSTBy JASPAL SINGH
28 July 2013

BIDOR (New Straits Times) – With its last natural habitat totally wiped out, the Dipterocarpus coriaceus tree species, known locally as keruing paya, is now regarded as extinct in the peninsula.

A finding made by the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) on Wednesday found that trees from the species could not be found at their last remaining bastion -- the now de-gazetted Bikam permanent forest reserve near here.

The state government had this year fully de-gazetted what remained of more than 400ha of the forest reserve to make way for the cultivation of oil palm.

A team of FRIM officers, led by forest botany expert Dr Lilian Chua, visited the former forest reserve for a site inspection for the species following a report that was published on July 22 in the New Straits Times.

In that report, Sahabat Alam Malaysia's field officer Meor Razak had expressed his fear that the keruing paya trees were facing threat of extinction following logging and land clearing activities in the area.

The NST reported that 175ha of the forest had been cleared by a timber contractor for an oil palm plantation, while another 175ha was being cleared by a different timber contractor for the same purpose.

The remaining area of the excised forest, believed to be more than 100ha, is expected to be cleared by another timber contractor after October.

Malaysian Nature Society's president Professor Dr Maketab Mohamed said he was informed of the team's finding by FRIM director-general Datuk Dr Abd Latif Mohmod.

"It is indeed a shocking find but this phenomenon did not happen overnight.

"The extinction was caused by the act of the state which de-gazetted forest reserves for oil palm plantations over a long period of time.

"The keruing paya is a species that is exclusive to the southern Perak region.

"It is a highly valued species for timber. The Bikam forest reserve was identified as the last largest natural habitat for the trees.

"But even that habitat is now gone; becoming a victim of exploitation of the forest for oil palm cultivation." [more]

'Keruing paya' now extinct

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