Land Swaps

Palm Oil Solutions 
Provide Damage Control 
to Ravaged Terrain

“Area cleared of forest where alang alang grass and tropical bracken now dominate the landscape. (Photo: Sekala)"
Companies concerned with the environment and public image may be signing up to support sustainable palm oil practices, but after they make their monetary contributions  and responsible purchases, what does their money do and who is doing it? 
Previous posts mentioned that some of this money goes to offering incentives for change to plantation companies in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. 
If plantation companies obtain RSPO certification, they may be able to participate in a land-swap, which would provide the company with land for cultivation of palm oil. A “swap” exchanges land that needs protection, such as forest, with land that is determined suitable for responsible palm oil cultivation. 
The land offered for palm oil production in these swaps is land that has been labelled “degraded.” This means that at some point the land was ravaged or irresponsibly used and now lies barren. Rather than cut down new forest in order to cultivate palm oil, already degraded land is allowed to be re-used.
Not all “barren” land is labeled “degraded.” The World Resources Institute (WRI), an organization that determines this status of used lands, is conscientious about what qualifies a land as “degraded.” Their goal is to ensure “future growth doesn’t lay waste to remaining forests.” Some lands are capable of being restored to forest, and where this is possible and vital, the WRI recommends this as the best option for an area. (Map of forest restoration possibilities.)
The WRI hopes, through its efforts, to “maximize benefits to local people, biodiversity, the economy, and the climate.” Studies and research are conducted which balance considerations of the environmental, economic, social and legal impact cultivation of a particular land would have in a certain area. 
Public awareness and efforts towards supporting sustainable practices in palm oil production are making it more difficult and expensive for plantation companies to gain permits for planting on forested land. 
The WRI is one more group dedicated to identifying realistic solutions for the future of palm oil, and assisting in their implementation.