A problem with Palm Oil!!!

For Kuching to Kota Kinabulu have a look at the blog post before this entry.

Elaeis guineensis Jacq.

‘African Palm Oil’

Palm oil, produced from the oil palm, is a basic source of income for many farmers in South East Asia, Central and West Africa, and Central America. It is locally used as a cooking oil, exported for use in many commercial food and personal care products and is converted into biofuel. It produces up to 10 times more oil per unit area as soyabeans, rapeseed or sunflowers. Oil palms produce 38% of vegetable oil output on 5% of the world’s vegetable-oil farmland.Palm oil is under increasing scrutiny in relation to its effects on the environment.

Palm oil is composed of fatty acids, esterified with glycerol just like any ordinary fat. It is high in saturated fatty acids. Palm oil gives its name to the 16-carbon saturated fatty acid palmitic acid. Monounsaturated oleic acid is also a constituent of palm oil. Unrefined palm oil is a large natural source of tocotrienol, part of the vitamin E family.

An estimated 1.5 million small farmers grow the crop in Indonesia, along with about 500,000 people directly employed in the sector in Malaysia, plus those connected with related industries.

As of 2006, the cumulative land area of palm oil plantations is approximately 11,000,000 hectares (42,000 sq mi). In 2005 the Malaysian Palm Oil Association, responsible for about half of the world’s crop, estimated that they manage about half a billion perennial carbon-sequestering palm trees.Demand for palm oil has been rising and is expected to climb further.

Between 1967 and 2000 the area under cultivation in Indonesia expanded from less than 2,000 square kilometres (770 sq mi) to more than 30,000 square kilometres (12,000 sq mi). Deforestation in Indonesia for palm oil (and illegal logging) is so rapid that a 2007 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report said that most of the country’s forest might be destroyed by 2022. The rate of forest loss has declined in the past decade.

Global production is forecast at a record 46.9m tonnes in 2010, up from 45.3m in 2009, with Indonesia providing most of the increase.

Rising demand is driving owners to clear tropical forest to plant oil palms.According to UNEP, at the current rate of intrusion into Indonesian national parks, it is likely that many protected rain forests will be severely degraded by 2012 through illegal hunting and trade, logging, and forest fires, including those associated with the rapid spread of palm oil plantations. There is growing concern that this will be harmful to the environment in several ways:

Greenhouse effects.

Damage to peatland, partly due to palm oil production, is claimed to contribute to environmental degradation, including four percent of global greenhouse gas emissionsand eight percent of all global emissions caused annually by burning fossil fuels,due to the clearing of large areas of rainforest for palm oil plantations. Many Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests lie atop peat bogs that store great quantities of carbon. Forest removal and bog drainage to make way for plantations releases this carbon.

Environmental groups such as Greenpeace claim that this deforestation produces far more emissions than biofuels remove. Greenpeace identified Indonesian peatlands, unique tropical forests whose dense soil can be burned to release carbon emissions, that are being destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations. They represent massive carbon sinks, and they claim their destruction already accounts for four percent of annual global emissions.

Greenpeace recorded peatland destruction in the Indonesian province of Riau on the island of Sumatra, home to 25 percent of Indonesia’s palm oil plantations. Growers plan to expand the area under concession by more than 28,500 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi) which would deforest half of the province. Greenpeace claims this would have devastating consequences for Riau’s peatlands, which have already been degraded by industrial development and store a massive 14.6 billion tonnes of carbon, roughly one year’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Research conducted by Greenpeace through its Forest Defenders Camp in Riau documents how a major Indonesian palm oil producer is engaging in large-scale, illegal destruction of peatland in flagrant violation of an Indonesian presidential order, as well as national forestry regulations. Palm oil from peatland is fed into the supply chain for global brands. FoE and Greenpeace both calculate that forests and peatlands that are replaced by palm oil plantations release more carbon dioxide than is saved by replacing diesel with biofuels.

Environmentalists and conservationists have been called upon to become palm oil farmers themselves, so they can use the profits to invest in their cause. It has been suggested that this is a more productive strategy than the current confrontational approach that threatens the livelihoods of millions of smallholders.

African Palm Oil.

Once was a rain forest!

Deforestation Borneo.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “A problem with Palm Oil!!!”

  1. Neil Says:

    One of the many curses on Borneo. Very sad but true.

  2. Amanda Anderson Says:

    Hey Trev, Sounds like your having a ball. Wish we could come. Cheers, S & A

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: