How can communities and governments balance the need for environmental conservation and economic survival?
Can the locals afford to be forward looking and consider the long term impacts when food/ income is not guaranteed? Could anything be done differently?
“Japanese fire up Malaysia’s mangrove coal industry
Varsha Tickoo, Reuters 4 Mar 09;
Nearly half of Perak is covered with mangrove forest called Matang, the largest in the Malaysian peninsula, spread over more than 40,000 hectares covering nearly half of the state.
The government has a replanting exercise in place but there are environmental concerns about the dwindling forest that guards wildlife, protects against climate change and events such as the tsunami, by acting like a barrier against the Indian Ocean.
“I understand these mangrove trees are very dense and make good charcoal but this would be like burning the Mona Lisa to keep you warm,” said Glen Barry, President of Ecological Internet Inc, a U.S.-based non-governmental organisation.
He said the mangrove harvest exceeded the number of mangroves regenerated, due in part to the fact that the trees take 30 years to mature.
But this may be a hard sell to the local people, who depend on the swamps to eke out a living in a state that is the second biggest on the peninsula by area but contributes less than 4 percent to the country’s economy.
“I’m not young anymore, what other job can I do?” says Mahteh Mah, a 43 year-old mother of three, wiping the sweat from her face on a dusty afternoon at the charcoal factory.”