Saving our living planet through responsible consumption
SELANGOR: Today, we use the natural resources of 1.5 planets; depleting ecological goods and services faster than nature can replenish them.
This year’s theme ‘Biodiversity for Sustainable Development’ for World Biodiversity Day reflects the importance of efforts made at all levels to increase public awareness on biodiversity issues and to disperse a greater understanding of the worth of nature towards sustainable development.
For more than 40 years, humanity’s demand on nature has exceeded what our planet can replenish. Currently, 92 percent of fresh water is used for agricultural production and about 40 percent of the habitable area of our planet is devoted to producing the commodities we consume. We depend on the seas for 17% of our animal protein globally. Malaysia alone consumed 56kg of fish per capita in 2014.
As we progress to be a developed nation by 2020, it appears that our development is proceeding at the expense of biodiversity conservation, as shown by the ever increasing threats of poaching, degradation and loss of natural forest. These threats continue to further exacerbate the population decline of numerous wildlife species such as the Malayan tiger which have drastically decreased from 500 back in 2003 to as low as 250 in 2014.
Based on the 2013 Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department report, the non-forested area in Peninsular Malaysia exceeds the forested area in a staggering difference of 1, 522, 427 hectares. Overall 1.92 million hectares or 8.6% of forest cover in Malaysia has been lost within a span of two decades (1990-2010).
Virgin forest plays an important role in biodiversity as well as our water catchment area that not only increases water quality but ultimately minimises erosion and floods like the landslide case in Cameron Highlands and floods occurring in multiple states late last year.
From illegal logging to poaching to unsustainable crop and agriculture development, there is no denying that unsustainable development, would in one way or another have an impact on the environment.
Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, CEO of WWF Malaysia said, “If the current human population and consumption trends continue, we will soon need the equivalent of two earths to support us. We can help conserve our natural resources and ecosystem by making better choices in purchasing sustainable daily goods. Nature conservation and sustainable development preserves biodiversity and safeguard human’s well-being, economy, food security and social stability. Human’s very existence depends on healthy ecosystems and the services they supply.”
He further explained that palm oil, for example, appears in many items used daily, from cosmetics to skin, hair, oral products and even our favourite noodles, chocolate and ice-cream. The moment we wake up and brush our teeth, take a shower and even as we have a bowl full of cereal, we are using a form of palm oil. However, not all sources of palm oil are sustainable, and when poorly managed, plantations can create environmental impacts such as soil erosion and river pollution.
“We can play a role in saving our living planet by being responsible consumers. Purchasing certified and sustainably-produced daily goods puts pressure on producers and increases demand, and this in turn contributes to better conservation of our natural resources and ecosystems,” concluded Dato’ Dr Dionysius.
As part of its continuous effort to conserve the environment, WWF-Malaysia continues advocating sustainable management practices as derived from science-based findings to be applied on the ground to conserve biodiversity. This is to decrease poaching, monitor illegal and unsustainable logging, increase water quality, encourage forest connectivity and overall the sustenance of our ecosystem and livelihood by working on key high conservation value areas within Peninsular Malaysia as well as Sabah and Sarawak.
WWF-Malaysia also concentrates on driving producers to produce better and buyers to buy sustainably-produced products with the help of globally-recognised certifications, such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This is collectively done with the help of banks, government policies and investors.
By working with businesses and making them part of the solution, WWF-Malaysia strives to transform markets and make them more sustainable. We focus our efforts on reducing the impact of production for commodities like palm oil, timber and fish that are leaving a considerable “footprint” on our environment. WWF-Malaysia is committed to continue the efforts of bringing positive changes to safeguard the well-being of people, wildlife and the environment