ABOUT PALM OIL
What is Palm Oil and Where is it Produced?
Palm oil is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms can grow wherever heat and rainfall are abundant and are now grown in Africa, Asia, North America and South America. Indonesia and Malaysia produce and export 87% of the global palm oil, however problems are arising from the unsustainable practices that are taking place.
What is Palm Oil used for?
The initial demand for palm oil was fuelled by the British Industrial Revolution. In the early 20th century 250,000 tonnes of palm oil were exported annually from South-East Asia and initially was used for the production of candles and as a lubricant for machinery.
Today palm oil is found in approximately 50% of our household products. It is used as a vegetable oil and found in biscuits, chocolate, bread, body products, toothpaste, shampoo, make-up, soaps and detergents. It is also used as a biofuel. Over 60,000,000 tonnes of palm oil are now exported annually from South-East Asia alone. According to WWF, an area of Rainforest the size of 300 football pitches in cleared each hour to make way for palm oil plantations.
Why is the Global Demand for Palm Oil so HUGE?
Not only is palm oil used in so many of our products today, but oil palms have an extremely high oil yield. They can produce six tonnes of oil per hectare per year, whereas rapeseed or soya oil would require 10 times the acreage! So there is an advantage to growing palm oil plantations.
Is Palm Oil Production the Biggest Threat to Orangutans and their Rainforest?
Although other industries such as paper and coal contribute to the rapid rate of deforestation in Borneo and Sumatra, palm oil production by far is having the greatest impact. Orangutans loosing their rainforest is the biggest threat to their survival and the addition of illegal wildlife and pet trade adds to the problem. It is estimated that palm oil production is killing 1000-5000 Orangutans each year. With over 80% of Orangutan habitat destroyed in the last 20 years, the UN has declared it ‘a conservation emergency’. Orangutan survival is essential for the existence of the Rainforest; being fruit eaters and eating a huge variety of foods, they help to spread the rainforest seeds, many of which need to pass through the gut of the Orangutan to then be able to germinate.
Government data has shown that over 50,000 Orangutans have died in the last two decades as a result of deforestation for palm oil. This happens either during the deforestation process or by killing once they enter a village or palm oil planation in search of food. Orangutans have been found buried alive or killed from machete attacks, guns and other weapons. The veterinary charity OVAID that this campaign is raising money for, recently had to surgically remove 60 bullets from an adult Orangutan they found. With wildlife trade in addition, Orangutan Mothers are often killed in order to get hold of the babies to be sold, kept as pets or used for entertainment in wildlife tourist parks in countries such as Bali and Thailand.
Not only are Orangutans severely threatened, currently one third of all mammal species in Indonesia are considered critically endangered as a result of unsustainable development encroaching on their habitat.
Further to this, palm oil plantations also have negative affects for people, the environment and the climate. Please click HERE read about the Rainforests to find out more.
What is the Solution?
Poverty is destroying the Rainforest along with palm oil production. Studies show that 50-70% of forest clearance in Indonesia is carried out by small farmers to sustain themselves. Not only is forest cleared, but often fires are started to clear the land as it is cheaper than using a digger. Contributing to further environmental impact. Boycotting palm oil would drive down the price and created further need to exploit for rainforest illegally.
Palm oil growers need us to support them so they can produce responsibly. It has to start with our demand for change but also support. Palm oil can be grown on other land in Indonesia, the cutting down of Rainforests needs to stop. The ORANG-U-CHANGE campaign is raising money for charities that are actively working with local communities to create sustainable livelihood action plans, as well as educating the government and corporations as to the value of the Rainforest. Your donation will also go towards planting trees in the effort to keep the Indonesian Rainforest and wildlife alive, as well as directly rescuing the injured, homeless and orphaned Orangutans.
Please click HERE to find out how you can help.