Our alumni Koh Lian Pin is in town for teh international conference, “Biofuels the impact of oil palms on forest and climate.” Janice Lee amongst others, attended the conference and will be traveling to Switzerland soon to join his lab at ETH Zurich.
After the morning’s presentations, Straits Times journalist Grace Chua rushed back to work on a story. Here’s an excerpt from her breaking news story and you catch the full article in print tomorrow:
“Singaporean scientist Koh Lian Pin said that between 1990 and 2005, 55 to 59 per cent, or 0.8 million to 1.1 million hectares, of Malaysia’s new oil palm developments were cultivated on former forest lands – meaning that forests were being cut down for plantations.
The same was true of Indonesia, with over half of new oil palm plantations in the same period coming from forests.
Dr Koh, now a research fellow at Swiss technological institute ETH Zurich, presented his findings at a conference at the National University of Singapore (NUS) on Tuesday.
Dr Koh also surveyed the number of bird and butterfly species in oil palm estates, and noted that plantations generally held just a quarter of the species contained in primary forests.
He recommended measures to safeguard biodiversity, such as expanding plantations only into non-forested areas, and protecting primary and secondary forest.
At the conference, organised by Yale University, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and NUS, industry players, scientists and NGOs, discussed the impact of oil palm cultivation.”
See also: “Biofuel production to expand in the Tropics,” by Debby Ng. theasiamag, 12 May 2009.