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Environmental impact of palm oil production

Better managed plantations and oil palm smallholdings serve as models of sustainable agriculture, in terms of economic performance as well as social and environmental responsibility.

Orangutans2

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However there is serious concern that not all palm oil production is sustainable, with issues relating to biodiversity, soil degradation, local people, land rights and many other matters. Development of new plantations has resulted in the conversion of large areas of forests with high conservation value and has threatened the rich biodiversity in these ecosystems.

In particular orangutan habitats have been threatened by palm oil production. In 1900, there were around 315,000 orangutans. Today, fewer than 50,000 exist in the wild, split into small groups with little long–term chance of survival. Scientists say the palm oil industry is the biggest threat to orangutans, with the species driven to extinction within 12 years unless the devastation of their natural habitat is halted.

Indonesian and Malaysian Palm Oil Production

Some environmental campaigners claim that in 15 years, 98% of the rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia will be gone unless drastic action is taken to find ways of producing sustainable palm oil. The expansion of oil palm plantations has also given rise to social conflicts between the local communities and project proponents in many instances.

As a result, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established in 2003 to tackle these problems head on. GreenPalm, which has been exclusively endorsed by the RSPO, is already making a significant contribution.

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