Malaysia deforestation: Can palm oil plantations be good news?
Whilst the latest news on Malaysian deforestation is bad, it must be recognised that palm oil can be a positive force for the countries where it is grown, writes Adam Harrison of the World Wildlife Fund.
One of the biggest drivers of forest loss in Malaysia and Indonesia is palm oil.
More than 80% of the world's most widely used vegetable oil comes from those two countries and it is estimated that more than half of what is grown in the region is planted on former tropical forests.
Loss of these forests is not only a threat to species like the tiger, elephant, rhino and orang-utan, but deforestation is also responsible for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and impacts heavily on communities that rely on the forest for a living.
However, whilst the latest news from the region is bad, it must be recognised that palm oil can be a positive force for the countries where it is grown and the people living there – but only if it is grown sustainably.
WWF set up the "Round table on Sustainable Palm Oil" (RSPO) in 2004 with a wide range of organisations involved in the global palm oil industry and it has progressed to developing standards for sustainable palm oil which include banning the clearance of land which is important for wildlife, the environment and local people.