Palm Oil, Deforestation and Some Potential Solutions

The profitability of palm oil has improved life for many people living in poor communities of Southeast Asia over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, these improvements do not come without consequences. Palm production has lead to deforestation of tropical forests, which reduces biodiversity (see prior posts for more information).

Because palm oil production has some positive affects on the working poor in developing nations, many incentives for growing sustainable palm oil are lacking. Stopping the rapid deforestation of these areas will require a number of solutions. David Wilcove and Lian Pin Koh’s article “Addressing the threats to biodiversity for oil-palm agriculture” outlines four potential solutions.

1. Regulations on the conversion of forests to palm oil.
2.  Financial incentives to produce certified, sustainable palm oil.
3.  Financial disincentives such as consumer pressure on manufacturers and retailers of unsustainable palm oil.
4. Promotion of biodiversity-friendly uses of forested land.

Please click here to view the PDF of the Wilcove, Koh article.