Members of Sahabat Alam Malaysia and Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) called on the Sarawak government to stop further turning peatland into oil palm plantations. Pix by SHAHNAZ FAZLIE SHAHRIZAL.

GEORGE TOWN: Two civil societies have called on the Sarawak government to stop further turning peatland into oil palm plantations.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia vice-president Mohideen Abdul Kader claimed large-scale development had damaged large tracts of swamp forest resources.

“Sarawak used to have about 1.6 million hectares of peatland. The state lost about 100,000ha of it to oil palm plantation by the early 2000s,” he claimed.

Mohideen urged the state government to commit to zero deforestation to maintain natural forests.

“The Sarawak government must stop approving conversion of peatland into plantation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Friends of the Orangutans director Upreshpal Singh said peatland was a fragile and unique ecosystem and must be maintained at all costs.

“Over-development from peatland clearing causes severe environmental impact. The building of drainage canals at the expense of peatland has taken a toll on Mother Nature,” he said.