No Such Thing As Pristine Biodiversity, Says World-Renowned Ecologist

By Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
Pix Ikhwan Hashim

BANGI, 5 Feb, 2016 – There is no such thing as pristine biodiversity, said Prof Hugh Possingham, a world-renowned mathematical ecologist from the University of Queensland, Australia.

Prof Possingham explained that it is not realistic to expect environmental ecosystems to be unchanged in perpetuity, because human populations and climate are constantly changing the surroundings.

 “I think we expect too much in wanting our ecosystems to remain the same. What we can do is to manage them wisely,” he told the National University of Malaysia (UKM) News Portal here today after his lecture as part of the university’s Wacana keLESTARIan series of discourses.

He considered oil palm plantations as environmentally sustainable because the managed estates foster great biodiversity in flora and fauna in the vicinity of the cultured trees.

Eventually secondary forests will replace the oil palm trees that are no longer productive and felled, elaborated Prof Possingham.

“You have to make sure the last areas of lowland forests are protected. All through Malaysia there are pockets of rainforests that can be looked after by the community and non-governmental organisations,” he added.

He proposed the Malaysian authorities to engage the local communities and forestry companies to be stewards to protect the rainforests.

Earlier in his lecture on formulating and solving Biodiversity and Ecosystem problems, he said such issues can be resolved simply by common sense.

However, he acknowledged that a more effective way of dealing with the problem is to quantify the data so that the stake-holders can better understand what would be lost if no immediate action is taken.

Prof Possingham is currently the Director of The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions.ukmnewsportal-eg