Friday, March 30, 2012

Sime Darby - Biodiversity First

Sime Darby Bhd. (SDB), one of the world’s top plantation companies, is embarking on various conservation projects to preserve Malaysia’s biodiversity.

The country’s oldest conglomerate with a rich heritage that dates back more than 100 years said growing its business in a sustainable manner is dependent upon ensuring the sustainability of the environment that surrounds its operations.

As sustainability is the core foundation for its growth, Sime Darby stressed that the corporate sector can have a significant impact on conservation efforts of the country’s rich natural resources.

The conglomerates environmental values have led the group to seek and adopt best practices, instill a caring attitude among its more than 100,000 employees and implement dedicated action plans that contribute towards protection and preservation of the environment from degradation as well as conservation of the ecosystems.

The conservation is important to SDBDeveloping sustainable futures is the aspirational tagline. It is a moving target, one that keeps pushing Sime Darby to improve not just in terms of financial performance but also the operational performance to ensure that they conduct business as responsibly and ethically as possible. 

As a large organisation with millions of stakeholders, interests of all these stakeholders are interconnected with the conservation of the environment and continued sustainability of the planet.

While expert opinions may defer on just how bad the worlds environmental problems are, most agree that there is indeed a problem and an urgent need to address it. Hence, conservation is a key part of the environment pillar of SDB's CSR (corporate social responsibility) framework, the other three being sports, community and education.

Sime Darby has taken a two-pronged approach in its conservation efforts. The first is external facing, where it supports research and actual conservation efforts. The second is internal facing where it applies best practices in its operations to minimise impact on the environment. Examples of the external facing projects include the Ulu Segama, reforestation project in which YSD has committed RM25 million for a period of 10 years. Sime Darby is the biggest contributor towards the conservation of the Ulu Segama forest reserve, allocating RM25 million to rehabilitate over logged areas.

Sime Darby also walks the talk via its Plant-a-Tree programme initiated in 2007 to reflect the importance of protecting the biodiversity in its plantations and to preserve rare and endangered species of trees in Malaysia. The programme includes urban forestry initiatives within the organisations townships. Sime Darbys employees across all its divisions are also encouraged to partake in this programme. Since 2007, nearly 330,000 trees have been planted.

In supporting wildlife and marine habitat protection, one such effort from Sime Darby is the conservation of mangrove ecology via various research and development initiatives. Sime Darby Plantation has established biodiversity plots within estates where it aims to create a natural corridor for indigenous fauna. The largest example of this is on Carey Island, Selangor, Malaysia. The area covers nearly 100 hectares in Carey Island’s East estate. Nearly 14,000 trees have been planted at the Wildlife Sanctuary, which serves as a gene bank of rainforest tree species including endangered, rare and threatened (ERT) species. Sime Darby Mangrove Research Centre is well positioned to lend its expertise as a mangrove ecosystem research hope in the region.

The groups conservation efforts found a perfect balance between burrowing mud lobsters of Pulau Carey and Sime Darbys plantations in Pulau Carey.

Sime Darby has also been involved in much smaller employee-initiated projects to clean waterfalls, plant trees in public spaces and clean beaches. This goes on all the time and is fast becoming a part of the Sime Darby culture.

Such projects also include the planting of rare and endangered tree species in nurseries and within the groups operations. Sime Darby have planted some of these species among the 14,000 rainforest and native tropical trees in our 6-star Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. Sime Darby is hopeful that with all these efforts in place, the group will also be well known as a responsible corporate in conservation drive, as much as its status as one of the worlds top plantation companies.

Sime Darby has taken a two-pronged approach in its conservation efforts. The first is external facing, where it supports research and actual conservation efforts. The second is internal facing where it applies best practices in its operations to minimise impact on the environment.

In conservation of biodiversity, Sime Darby Plantation:
  • Practices zero burning replanting technique
  • Ensures maximum conservation of soil
  • Maintains natural vegetation, permanent greenbelts and water catchments
And to enhance biodiversity, Sime Darby Plantation:
  • Encourages crop diversification to include planting of forest trees
  • Enhances soil biodiversity by establishing leguminous cover-crop
  • Cultivates beneficial plants to diversify flora which also attract pest predator insects

What actually is biodiversity?

Just look around us. We have a wide variety of flowering plants, ferns, majestic trees, insects, birds, fish and animals and the unique places they live in such as mangrove swamps, rivers, highlands and coastal areas. The water we drink, the air we breathe and the clothes we wear all come from nature and the complex process and services that nature does to sustain life on earth. All living forms including us humans and the services that nature does form an integrated web of life. This brings about the concept of biodiversity.

Biodiversity was defined by the UN Earth Summit in 1992 as "the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems".

Or simply put, biodiversity is the variety of all living forms found in this world and the various habitats they live in.

This diversity is often understood in terms of the wide variety of plants, animals and microorganisms. So far, about 1.75 million species have been identified. Scientists reckon that there are actually about 13 million species, though estimates range from three to 100 million.


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