Oil Palm Plantations

Oil Palm“Oil-palm plantations cover over 13 million hectares, primarily in Southeast Asia, where they have directly or indirectly replaced tropical rainforest.”

Estimates indicate “it would take between 75 and 93 years for the carbon emissions saved through use of biofuel to compensate for the carbon lost through forest conversion, depending on how the forest was cleared.”

“If the original habitat was peatland, carbon balance would take more than 600 years.”

“Conversely, planting oil palms on degraded grassland would lead to a net removal of carbon within 10 years.”

“Tropical forests also store around 46% of the world’s living terrestrial carbon, and 25% of total net global carbon emissions may stem from deforestation.”

“In 2006, 85% of the global palm-oil crop was produced in Indonesia (43%) and Malaysia (42%)”

“According to latest estimates, between the years 2000 and 2005, the net forest loss was 7.3 million hectares per year or 20,000 hectares per day.”

“Since l998, over 100 million hectares of primary forests have been converted into industrial tree plantations.”

“In l997 it was estimated that oil palm plantations occupy 6.5 million hectares and produced 17.5 million tonnes of palm oil and 2.1 million tonnes of palm kernel oil.”

“By 2005, palm oil production reached 30 million tonnes and the area covered had already comprised 12 million hectares.”

“Indonesia is experiencing the biggest rate of increase in terms of forests converted into oil palm plantations. In a period of 30 years (1967-1997) oil palm plantations have increased 20 times with 12 percent average annual increases in crude palm oil (CPO) production.”

“From 106,000 hectares in 1960 this has increased to 6 million hectares in Indonesia although there were around 18 million hectares of forests cleared purportedly for oil palm in 2006.”

“In 2002 palm oil produced more than US$2.1 billion in export revenue for Indonesia and $3.8 billion for Malaysia.”

References:
Conservation Biology, Biofuel Plantations on Forested Lands: Double Jeopardy for Biodiversity and Climate, 2009
United Nations: Oil Palm and Other Commercial Tree Plantations, Monocropping: Impacts on Indigenous peoples’ Land Tenure and Resource Management Systems and Livelihoods. 2007

About The Author

Scott serves as Director of Development & Communications for Audubon Canyon Ranch (focusing on preservation, education and conservation science) and has almost fifteen years of experience spanning for-profit and nonprofit sectors in biotech, wildlife conservation and management, communications, and philanthropy. In addition to a strong track record in organizational growth and leadership, he is the founder of Urban Bird Foundation and Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, and presided over ECHO Fund, a coastal protection and restoration organization, as President for four years. Scott holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy, degrees in Micro & Molecular Biology and Environmental Sciences, and has complemented his studies with a Master's certificate in Environmental Resource Management.

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