025_Global13_Insight_Forestry

Global 13

Global InsightSustainable Forestry Industrial forest plantations by region Annual change in forest area by region (2012) (1990-2010) Asia North America Latin America Africa Oceania Europe Net loss Net gain n 1990-2000 n 1990-2000 0 5,000,000 10,000,000 15,000,000 20,000,000 n 2000-2010 n 2000-2010 Total 54.3 million ha formational change is what we need. Our survival depends on it.” an off-the-shelf solution to an issue that greatly interests their cus- If agricultural expansion is one of the greatest threats tosustain- tomers.” For consumers, then, ethical supermarket shopping will able forestry, it is especially evident in the case of palm oil. In the continue to be a minefield. past decade, palm oil has become a sort of wonder product for a va- Using land that has already been degraded means that it can be riety of consumer industries. So versatile is this oil that it is found restored to something like its previous state. The aim of the In- in products from shampoos and soaps to crisps and bread – in fact, ternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in its 2012 one in ten products in the average supermarket is estimated to con- Bonn Challenge commitment, is to restore 150 million hectares of tain palm oil. Most of the time, you would never know it’s there. degraded and deforested land by 2020. By the time of the Doha Growing palm oil is not in itself problematic. It becomes a prob- conference last November, there were commitments from land- lem when pristine natural forest is cleared to make room for the owners and governments to restore about a third of that total. plantations, and that has unfortunately been the pattern in South- Carole Saint-Laurent, senior policy officer for forest landscape res- East Asian countries, where the boom in palm oil demand has toration at IUCN, says: “A restored landscape allows for different land sparked a corresponding frenzy of clearance, deforestation and uses to coexist: from agriculture, to forests managed for timber, fuel monoculture. Palm oil plantations can often result in the displace- and fruit, and protected wildlife reserves, to areas managed for the ment of indigenous forest peoples, and they certainly provide noth- protection of water supplies. The goal is to revitalise the landscapes so ing like the home for biodiversity that real forests do. it can meet the needs of both people and nature, sustainably.” “Palm oil plantations continue to be one of the biggest drivers of Any break in the pattern of deforestation is good news, and deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, and with a new palm oil frontier developing in Africa, palm oil’s role in deforestation is set to increase,” says Duff. His views are echoed by Nils Hermann Ranum, head of the policy and campaign division of the Rainforest Founda- tion Norway. “Especially in South-East Asia, the expansion of palm oil has been causing massive forest destruction… The expansion of palm oil plantations that replace natural forests must end, and instead production must be intensified in areas already in use.” Stephen Leonard, president of the Climate Justice Programme, be- lieves palm oil producers would do better to ensure their plantations are on land already degraded or deforested, rather than clearing new land for the purpose. He says: “There is a significant amount of de- graded land available for the planting of palm oil plantations and this is a requirement for palm oil sustainability certification. However, in Malaysia for example, the costs of changing from unsustainable practices to meet the requirements for sustainable practices cannot be met by local small land-holders farming palm oil.” Sections of the palm oil industry have come together to respond to green concerns, forming the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This seeks to ensure that plantations are properly managed, are not placed on recently cleared land and preserve biodiversity. It provides assurances to consumers, and a labelling service for pro- ducers, so that they can certify they comply with good practice. and climate change,” he says. “Until the RSPO standards recog- © IUCN Daniel ShawBut is it enough? Greenpeace’s Duff thinks not. “The RSPO has still not been able to break the link between palm oil, deforestation nise the impact the palm oil industry has on our climate, it won’t be possible to class RSPO palm oil as sustainable. This is a major problem for companies who have been relying on the RSPO for Tree seedlings ready to plant globalfirst quarter 2013 www.global-briefing.org l25


Global 13
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