The palm oil industry was responsible for at least 39 percent of forest loss on the biodiversity-rich island of Borneo between 2000 and 2018, according to data from Indonesia-based Centre for International Forest Research (CIFOR).
The palm oil industry was responsible for at least 39 percent of forest loss on the biodiversity-rich island of Borneo between 2000 and 2018. (Photo: OI)
The data comes as forest clearance fires inBorneo and parts of Indonesia spread smog across Southeast Asia, causing airquality to drop to unhealthy levels in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.
Borneo, shared by Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, lost 6.3 million hectares offorest cover during the period, of which palm oil companies accounted for about2.4 million hectares while pulpwood firms accounted for 461,319 hectares.
Palm oil was responsible for 35 percent of forest loss in the Indonesian partof Borneo, and 46 percent on the Malaysian side.
Indonesia and Malaysiaproduce about 85 percent of the world’s palm oil, which is used in everythingfrom soaps, lipstick to pizza and biodiesel.
CIFOR determined theamount of deforestation caused by companies by calculating the area of forestcleared and converted to industrial plantations within the same year. Thedata does not include plantations farmed by smallholders, who account for 40percent of palm oil production globally, industry estimates show.
According to David Gaveau, a climate scientist at CIFOR, the conversion fromforest area to plantations has slowed since 2012 due to lower prices for palmoil and Indonesia’s bans on new plantations. Last year, forest loss fromexpansion of palm oil plantations fell to 22 percent from 28.5 percent in theprevious year./.VNA