Friday, September 23, 2005

Boycott Indonesian palm oil?


Indonesian forests are burned to create oil palm plantations.

The fires cause global warming. Largest ever single release of carbon dioxide; it's in Indonesia.

The fires destroy the habitat of the orang utan.


Palm oil demand driving orang-utans to extinction: study

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP): Demand for palm oil, which is widely used in processed foods, is driving the orang-utan towards extinction by speeding the destruction of their forest habitat, Friends of the Earth said on Friday.

The environmental campaigners said Asia's only great ape could be wiped out within 12 years unless there was urgent intervention in the palm oil trade, which it said was also linked with human rights abuses.

"Almost 90 percent of the orang-utan's habitat in Indonesia and Malaysia has now been destroyed. Some experts estimate that 5,000 orang-utan perish as a result every year," it said in a statement from London.

In a report it dubbed the "Oil for Ape Scandal", the group said wildlife centers in Indonesia were over-run with orphaned baby orang-utans that had been rescued from forests being cleared to make way for new plantations.

"Oil-palm plantations have now become the primary cause of the orang-utans' decline, wiping out its rainforest home in Borneo and Sumatra," it said.

Friends of the Earth said that palm oil is found in one in 10 products on supermarket shelves, including bread, crisps and cereals as well as lipstick and soap, and that many manufacturersdid not know where their oil was coming from.

Palm oil plantations have also been blamed for the annual haze crisis which hit Malaysia and Thailand last month, as clouds of smoke and dust from "slash and burn" operations drifted over from Indonesia's Sumatra island.

"Research by Friends of the Earth shows that the forest fires which ravaged the island of Sumatra in August, and continue to burn today, were mostly set by palm oil companies clearing land to set up their plantations," it said.

"It is estimated that one third of the orang-utan population on Borneo was killed by the forest fires of 1998," it said, referring to the disastrous haze crisis that year which crippled business and tourism in parts of Southeast Asia.



Blogger Nick Lyon, Cockroach Productions said...

NO! Do NOT boycott Indonesian Palm Oil!

Millions of people rely on the industry for their livlihoods, and if it collapsed I doubt it would stop the clearfelling of forest.

We need to promote the work of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and trun this into a green industry!

Here is an update on a really bad idea to expand into rainforest:
The megaplantation that is currently being proposed, funded by Chinese investors, has now doubled in size to roughly 3,300,000 hectares...

Meanwhile the Indonesian government recognises that it needs to rehabilitate 56,000,000 ha of degraded forest. Around 25,000,000 ha of land is totally destroyed and palm oil cultivation here would actually help restore hydrology, bring work to destitute local people who lost all forms of income when their forests were cleared. It would also interupt the new annual burn cycle that puts the alang alang grass fields up in smoke, and poses risks to surrounding forests...

Its all a bit crazy. Meanwhile good forest is being cut down for conversion to plantation - providing an innitial 40% windfall in timber revenues, and much valued up fornt cash, since the plantations will take about 4 years to turn a profit.

6,000 orangutans a year are being lost out of a combined total of about 60,000 (including the Bornean and Sumatran species).

Money, money, money... and it is crazy because it would not cost us, the end consumer, that much more if we pushed for sustainable palm oil, a product found in 1 in 10 supermarket products in the UK now.

So... what is to be done? Well everyone needs to be asking their supermarkets to take responsible action. We also need to ask our governments to provide some help to companies who are going to be responsible, because this damn free market is obviously going to favour those who have these early profits...

Come and find out more, and see some of the work we're doing on palm oil and orangutans:

We're looking for keen campaigners, people who will spread the word, write articles, blogs, letters. It really is a critical time for the orangutan, and the millions of people who's livlihood is threatened by the total land clearance brought about by plantation development, have a look at our photo albums to see some of the extent of the damage.

Please drop us a line if you can help,

Nick Lyon,
Director, Orangutan Film Protection Project

4:37 AM  

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