GRASP15 : United Nations Report Calls for Conservation to Collaborate with Palm Oil Industry

 

 

The conservation community should collaborate more closely than ever with oil palm developers if a global sustainable strategy is to be achieved and great apes and their fragile ecosystems are to be saved, according to a United Nations report released this week.

 

Palm Oil Paradox: Sustainable Solutions to Save the Great Apes is the result of a two-year study of palm oil development in Southeast Asia, and the steps required to ensure that the loss of biodiversity that occurred in that region is not repeated as the crop expands into Africa.

 

Palm Oil Paradox was produced by U.N. Environment through the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), the alliance of 105 national governments, conservation organizations, research institutions, U.N. agencies and private companies committed to ensuring the long-term survival of great apes and their habitat. The report was released at the 14th Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) meeting in Bangkok.

 

Among the report’s key recommendations are the placement of “certified” sustainable oil palm plantations close to great ape habitats in order to minimize irresponsible production, and the designation of “no-go” zones set aside for priority ape populations.

 

“This report recognizes that palm oil is here to stay and the hardline boycotts are unlikely to achieve success,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. “Right now, all of the chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans in the world are classified as endangered or critically endangered, so we need to find a way to work constructively with a commodity that can either hasten extinction or offer a way forward. Palm Oil Paradox makes it clear that finding common ground with oil palm developers makes sense.”

 

Palm oil is a $62 billion USD industry that is available in approximately half of all the items on supermarket shelves. U.N. Environment signed a memorandum of Understanding with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2014 to drive consumer demand for sustainably sourced palm oil.

 

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