AN article appearing on a US-based Internet newspaper claims that Malaysia is destroying its forests three times faster than all Asia combined, for palm oil plantations.

According to The Huffington Post, a report commissioned by the Netherlands-based Wetlands International said Malaysia is uprooting an average of 2% of its rainforests in Sarawak every year, its largest state located on the island of Borneo, or nearly 10% in the past five years.

Malaysia palm oil

A tractor hulls a load of oil palm bunches at a plantation in Malaysia. Pic: AP.

On the other hand, the deforestation rate of Asia during the similar period was 2.8%. The deforestation was seen via satellite images by SarVision, a satellite monitoring and mapping company that originated with scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

“Total deforestation in Sarawak is 3.5 times as much as that for entire Asia, while deforestation of peat swamp forest is 11.7 times as much,” the Wetlands International report is quoted as saying.

It said in the last five years, 353,000 hectares of Malaysia’s peatlands were deforested, comprising of one-third of swamps that are important to the ecosystem by storing carbon from decomposed plants for millions of years and habitat to endangered plant and animal species.

Malaysia is among the world’s top producers of palm oil. Sarawak Report, a website on Sarawak politics, had accused its chief minister, Taib Mahmud, of grabbing land almost three times the size of Singapore from natives for timber and palm-oil producing.