Palm oil tries to show its sustainable side

A palm oil plantation and oil mill in Malaysia Copyright: Flickr/Sampsadaily

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The palm oil industry is thriving and oil palm monocultures now dominate the landscape of South-East Asia.

But while it grows, the industry is becoming aware that it needs to prove its sustainability and curb destructive growth, such as cutting down biodiversity-rich forest to make way for plantations — which are poor at supporting biodiversity.

In November, industry officials will meet to discuss voluntary schemes to minimise biodiversity loss.

And a report to be presented at the meeting delivers a clear warning: unless deforestation due to palm oil expansion stops, further biodiversity will be lost.

The study analyses biodiversity within and around palm oil plantations. In Sumatra, Indonesia, for example, less than ten per cent of birds and mammals native to the area survive where palm oil plantations are located.

And the report highlights how proactive management can help reduce the problem by, for example, salvaging areas of native forest within plantations.

Link to full article in Science