Save Asia's rainforests

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 March, 1993, 12:00am

THE destruction of one of the world's great wildlife areas, the rainforests of Southeast Asia, continues unabated in the name of prosperity.

Many of the perpetrators of this crime against nature unfortunately are Hongkong Chinese. Many palm oil growers, timber clear-cutters, miners and property developers in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia are based in Hongkong.

Pristine wilderness is destroyed at an alarming rate for the short-term profit of the few, while the long-term profits of these undeveloped areas are neglected.

As any good businessman knows, this is a bad commercial strategy. Ecotourism is the new wave of the tourist industry. It brings a vast amount of foreign currency to emerging Asian economies on a sustainable basis. Sustainable, that is, as long as the natural areas of the region remain untouched and free from the depredations of profiteers and corrupt government officials.

The broad-based profits derived from undamaged ecosystems enrich the many and lead to the development of solid middle class economies - economies that create sustainable markets and stable democratic governments. Sustained prosperity means greater profits for all.

Appreciation of the natural environment - the untouched, beautiful places of the earth - is a luxury that can be enjoyed by all southeast Asians. Fine art is not wantonly destroyed, neither should the world's rarest places be thoughtlessly eradicated.

L. BARONE Shouson Hill