Palm oil and rainforests

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    Take a look at It’s a site that shows that palm oil cultivation does not necessarily lead to the destruction of rainforests. For one thing, cultivation is usually on designated agricultural land. Also, there is a roundtable on sustainable palm oil for the various stakeholders in the palm oil industry.

    I even saw a video of how plantation workers are trained to treat and heal injured orang utans should they come across them!

    It is true that some illegal logging is being done, but it is not only for palm oil. They also use the burning technique for clearing land for grain or do timber logging, again, all illegal. The important thing is that the palm oil industry should not be ‘blacklisted’ or accused of something they may not even be responsible for but for a few bad apples!

    Martin W

      One of the major problems involving oil palms in Borneo recently involved plans for huge (world’s largest) oil palm plantation in northern Kalimantan. Would involve clearing major areas of forest. I’ve spoken with Stuart Chapman, International Coordinator of WWF-originated Heart of Borneo project, and he told me the planned plantation area would involve substantial proportion of proposed Heart of Borneo. Helped by research by CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research), plus people in oil palm industry, they worked on persuading Indonesian government that the area – in hills – was not suitable for oil palms. Happily, the Indonesian government halted the scheme – which WWF (and others) viewed as a sham, an attempt to fell a huge area for timber.

      Are places already, I believe, where trees felled for oil palms, but no palms later planted; timber sold, and land left. So, shenanigans associated with this industry. WWF also showed Kalimantan has large areas that are already cleared, and suitable for oil palms: no need to fell more trees to make way for them. I’ve been through oil palm plantations in Sabah: just horrible monoculture; replaced major biodiversity, and in lowlands where there were the richest rainforest. Borneo now has only tiny fraction of its lowland forests remaining. I’ve heard too that it’s hard to remove oil palms – something re getting rid of roots being real hard.

      See also: The Oil Palm Problem in Indonesia from Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.

      Martin W

        Email from Ecological Internet: Let the President know the world expects Indonesia to keep the Environment Minister’s promise to tackle the root causes of rainforest fires and peatland drainage

        Indonesia’s rainforests contain 60% of all the tropical peat in the world. Such rainforests on peat soils are one of the world’s most important carbon sinks and play a vital role in helping to regulate the global climate. They are also very rich in biodiversity and a refuge for species like orang-utans. Rainforest peatlands are being destroyed fast; primarily by palm oil, timber, and paper and pulp companies. The Indonesian government has endorsed a massive biofuel program which foresees an increase in oil palm plantations to eventually over 26 million hectares. Far from reducing climate change emissions, it will rapidly release up to 50 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. This is the equivalent of over 6 years of global fossil fuel emissions and could well make the generally accepted 2 degree C of warming that is considered "dangerous" unavoidable. A recent study has found that one ton of biodiesel made from palm oil grown on Southeast Asia’s peatlands is linked to the emission of 10-30 tons of carbon dioxide. Shockingly, this is 2- 8 times as much carbon released as in production of a ton of fossil fuel diesel. Please write to the Indonesian government now to express your grave concerns over biofuel expansion plans which threaten to further destroy rainforests and peatlands, and to thus dangerously accelerate global warming.

        Martin W

          Another email from Ecological Internet (Sept 07): It is gravely unethical and ecologically devastating to expand production of biofuels at the expense of ancient primary rainforests, biodiverse grasslands, local communities and their food sovereignty

          The Colombian government is embarking on a massive expansion of oil palms, sugar cane and other monocultures for agrofuels and other markets at the expense of rainforests, biodiverse grasslands and local communities… Palm oil expansion is linked to large-scale rainforest destruction and to serious violence and human rights abuses.

          NGOs have documented 113 killings in the river basin of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó, in Chocó region at the hands of paramilitaries who are working with plantation companies to take over land which legally belongs to Afro-Colombian communities… The Chocó forests which are being destroyed by palm oil expansion are some of the largest remaining coastal lowland rainforests on the Earth and are amongst the most biodiverse forests on Earth. They are home to 7,000 to 8,000 species, including 2,000 endemic plant species and 100 endemic bird species. Even before the current palm oil and agrofuel expansion, 66% had been destroyed.

          Please write to the Colombian government and ask them to protect the rights of indigenous, Afro- Colombian and peasant communities affected by large-scale monoculture plantations, to stop further deforestation for oil palm plantations, impose a moratorium on further palm oil expansion and on the country’s biofuel programme, which is a major cause of monoculture expansion, and to protect the land rights, the food sovereignty and the environment on which local communities depend. This email alert is supported by the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz) in Colombia.



          The World Bank has agreed to suspend International Finance Corporation (IFC) funding of the oil palm sector pending the development of safeguards to ensure that lending doesn’t cause social or environmental harm, according to a letter by World Bank President Robert Zoellick to NGOs. A recent internal audit found that IFC funding of the Wilmar Group, a plantation developer, violated the IFC’s own procedures, allowing commercial concerns to trump environmental and social standards. The audit’s findings were championed by environmental and indigenous rights’ groups who have criticized World Bank support for industrial oil palm development which they say has driven large-scale destruction of forests in Indonesia, boosting greenhouse gas emissions, endangering rare and charismatic species of wildlife, including the orangutan, and displacing forest communities.

          World Bank’s IFC suspends lending to palm oil companies


          From BBC News:

          A BBC Panorama investigation into clear-cutting in Indonesian Borneo – the island it shares with Malaysia – found that the thirst for land on which to plant palm plantations is encroaching on areas that the Indonesian government has deemed to be off-limits.


          The orangutans, displaced as the trees of old-growth forests are burned and at times killed by workers who see them as a nuisance in the logging process, are not the only victims of the runaway growth in palm oil – scientists say there is a wider environmental price being paid.

          Greenpeace has identified the draining of ancient peat lands to make way for palm oil as a global threat, saying it had lead to massive amounts of trapped methane and carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

          As a result, Indonesia is the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind only America and China.


            MORE THAN HALF of new palm oil plantations in Malaysia are now going onto former peat swamp! Indonesia is not far behind.

            Sarawak state has a plan to drain peat swamp as fast as possible.

            The site you quote is a very obvious propaganda vehicle for the oil palm industry.

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