A wonderful revenue generator for those who own the valuable land resource but effectively environmental armageddon. The main problem with the industry isn’t the actual product more the way it comes to market. The top producers in the world (Indonesia and Malaysia) are ripping down virgin irreplaceable rain forest to create these plantations. Its the same situation in the Amazon with cattle ranching. On a side note please do not buy Brazilian sourced beef as the demand leads to greater tracts of forest being felled, biodiversity being lost and indigenous people’s sustainable and ancient way of live becoming threatened. Back to palm oil...

A real victim of the palm oil rush has been on the Island of Borneo. The island being split between 3 countries has some of the most biologically diverse rainforests on the planet which are being felled at a rate that is wholly unsustainable. Due to the nature of these political divisions on the island joined up thinking is required and this is something generally we find the world sadly lacking in. Apart from all the wildlife that is bearing the burnt of this “gold rush” ( pygmy elephants, rhinos and the ever loved ginger ape orangutans) the carbon released is quite astonishing. Once the rain forest is felled, burnt and replanted with palm oil four key effects are very prominent.

1. Reduced Carbon storage.
2. Release of carbon from burning.
3. High release of carbon from the soil due to lack of rainforest present and eons of previous capture.
4. Ecological sterility.

This carbon release now places Indonesia THIRD globally for carbon emissions behind the US and China. Apart from the catastrophic effect to the world globally the more immediate effects are blackened skies and respiratory problems from the localised Asian countries caused by smoke due to the burning.
Bearing this all in mind there are still powerful economic arguments that will always encourage people to fell the forest and grow something that will actively improve their family’s quality of life.

Quite frankly its almost an impossible sell when the choice is schools and new houses or a global pat on the back for not planting the palm oil. The current inedible global pat on the back needs to be made more tangible. Governments need to take charge and things are changing but all too slowly considering the previous rate of destruction. Consumers can also act.

Many companies use Palm Oil in their products and demand leads to supply, a boycott also follows the same basic rules. If we don’t buy their products they will always get the message if it hits the bottom line. Not all companies are environmental bandits however consumer actions and news coverage can build a head of steam far quicker than a corporate sustainability statement.

Does anyone else think the evidence is there, the jury has delivered its decision but the court has failed to act? Maybe we should be doing something about it ourselves?