Palm oil suppliers
There has been a lot of coverage recently about palm oil and the negative consequences of unregulated palm oil production on orangutan habitat. This has had some fantastic consequences – for example some big palm oil firms have been slated for deforestation, which has led in some instances to consumer outrage and brands severing trade deals. One such firm is the notorious IOI, which was ousted from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil last year. One of the consequences was a significant drop in their share price as large western firms refused to buy their palm oil. Since then, IOI have made a pledge to improve their practices and Greenpeace have pledged to closely monitor their progress.
Whilst of course this is fantastic news, because it means that consumer pressure from people like you is influencing what happens on the ground in Indonesia, there are some less desirable consequences. The larger companies may have land banks in high conservation value areas. Frightened to use them in case it leads to a boycott by major palm oil buyers, they are keen to rid themselves of these assets, which are then sold on to smaller producers. The smaller producers can afford fewer scruples and may then go on to deforest surrounding land to increase their holding.
Ultimately of course, we hope that unsustainable palm oil will become a non-saleable commodity, but until an alternative income is available for local people, it is likely that these problems will continue to some extent. One of the projects we hope to get off the ground this year, is a research and analysis project looking at alternative means of finance and income for the local communities to ensure that conserving primary rainforest becomes profitable.