Palm Oil and Deforestation
Rainforests are home to some of the world’s most biodiverse tropical rain forests, and wildlife. However, all these animals are a under constant threat because their habitats have all been destroyed due to deforestation leaving them homeless.
Agriculture has accounted for over 73% of deforestation. A major issue is the on- going production of large-scale palm oil plantations. Currently there’s over 15 million hectares of palm oil plantations that are responsible for decimating the rainforests, and the widespread habitat loss of already endangered species. And because of this, there’s been a huge increase in human-wildlife conflict and poaching, as populations of large animals are squeezed into increasingly isolated fragments of natural habitat.
Palm oil is an edible tropical fleshy fruit/vegetable that’s grown on African ‘oil palm trees’ (where the tree originated from). Two types of vegetable oil can be produced from this fruit: crude palm oil, and palm kernel oil. It’s an extremely versatile oil that has many functions which makes it so useful and is widely used. Globally, it supplies 35% of the world’s vegetable oil demand, and has become the highest-yielding vegetable oil crop, and it’s very cheaply produced.
Palm oil is in about 50% of the packaged products we find in supermarkets: everything from pizza, doughnuts, breads, margarine, chocolate, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, soaps, detergents etc. so it’s really difficult to avoid.
As consumers, we don’t realize how our day to day choices directly affect nature, wildlife and the climate, because it not an issue that’s in our face. And we don’t see what’s happening on the other side. But what we can do, is look for products and companies that have the sustainable palm oil labels on them, so that we know they’re following and practicing the proper guidelines to produce sustainable palm oil and they’re respecting and safeguarding people, nature, and wildlife. This way we can at least lessen the impact. None of our food should be destroying the planet.