A Different Kind of Palm Desert

“Wow, Sabah is so beautiful. There are so many palm trees everywhere,” the Dutch tourist blurted out as she walked into the restaurant opposite Sukau Greenview. Tony and I looked at each other, jaws dropping. Our eyes said it all. How can you come all the way here and not realize that massive deforestation and palm oil plantations are the reasons the planet’s oldest rainforest is disappearing before our very eyes?

Sadly, the Dutch girl was right in one respect, there are palm trees everywhere. But the palms don’t make Sabah beautiful, it’s the remaining jungle between the grid-like plantations which makes this part of Borneo so attractive. Unfortunately, even the forest along the Kinabatangan River doesn’t go on forever. While hiking along the river, Tony and I discovered the end of our bio-diversity paradise marked by an ugly electric fence built to keep the elephants out of the plantation. And beyond – a green dead-zone, a biological wasteland which is virtually useless to the animals surviving in the forest. So much destruction for a pile of palm fruit. Although, I guess it’s not the first time paradise has been destroyed by a piece of fruit.

I know, we promised not to vent too much, so we’ll leave it at that.

6 responses to “A Different Kind of Palm Desert”

  1. avatar Freda says:

    OK, so you will not vent.
    Well, I will.
    What is to happen to our wildlife in this region.
    What is to happen to any remaining local tribes as all get squeezed tighter and tighter into what remains of their habitat.
    HELLO,
    All in the name of of making more money for the corporations that now own this land, and most of those companies are from other countries. Sold by local (Big Guys)
    They come in, buy up the land and strip it away and force the local people out.
    We all suffer when the local rainforests are stripped away.
    All of this has a direct negative impact on the earth’s climate.
    Most of our medications are derived from the plants of the rainforests (Not Date Palms) or (Palm Oil)
    Wake up everybody.
    Speak your mind, be heard or we all suffer just so a few companies can make a quick profit.

  2. avatar Evelyn says:

    Thanks, Freda! Wake up world! Closer to home in San Diego, CA (USA), my beloved Palomar Mountain State Park is scheduled for closure next July. The school camp that my kids attended years ago was closed down in May… I can imagine what will happen when park rangers leave and paved roads into the heart of the forest remain behind…

  3. We are struggling to get school kids to enjoy “outdoors” but I was pleased to see young people checking food labels for the “palm oil free” logo. There is hope, but we need to keep information flowing.

    • avatar Tony says:

      That’s a fantastic thing to hear. Unfortunately, in the case of Sabah, most of the forest is already gone. That change needed to happen in the 80s. But at least, there is some hope for the small stretches of forest that remain.

  4. avatar hadi says:

    Sabah’s forests presently cover an area of some 4.4 million hectares or approximately 63% of its total landmass, including forest reserves, stateland and parks

    • avatar Tony says:

      Yes, I’ve seen those articles as well. There is no way in hell that that statistic is true – unless someone has decided to count palm plantations and secondary growth as well.

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