On 4th October, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok declared that Malaysia was over 50% forest, and it intends to stay that way. The Minister explained that the Malaysian government will not allow any further expansion of oil palm plantations in the country. In addition to her statement regarding expansion, Kok detailed the Ministry’s objective of achieving 100% Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil Certification among existing producers by the end of 2019.
Malaysia and Indonesia are world leaders in palm oil production, while also containing some of the worlds most precious ecosystems, natural resources, and carbon sinks. Malaysia’s commitment to halt deforestation marks an important step against ecosystems in decline and climate disruption on behalf of a nation with significant environmental impact. In 2016, eminent biologist and naturalist E.O Wilson called for a Half-Earth solution in which half of earth’s land would be set aside to preserve biodiversity and abate climate disruption. With Malaysia’s recent 50% forest commitment, could we see other nations setting similar objectives and, perhaps, a global pursuit of this one elegant objective? What might be required for nations with other geographic, demographic, and economic characteristics to conserve 50% of their land?