Civic Responsibility, Palm Oil & Change

Forest clearance in Indonesia. Palm oil production in the country, which is one of the world’s largest producers, has been linked to deforestation. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Greenpeace

Smouldering peatland following a suspected land clearance fire in Kampar, Sumatra, in 2019. Photograph: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images

Palm oil has a dirty history. It causes havoc, to put it politely. May we all do our part to elect civic leaders with a keen sense of responsibility for devastation in other parts of the world, and get them to take action to reduce it. We thank Patrick Greenfield for his reporting in this article titled The UK city taking a stand on palm oil in the fight against deforestation:

A growing number of towns and villages are following Chester’s lead in helping local businesses to eradicate deforestation-linked oil from their supply chains

Orangutans, tigers, Sumatran rhinos and many other threatened species are affected by habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict that stems from palm oil plantations. Photograph: Vier Pfoten/Four Paws/Rhoi/REX/Shutterstock

From mince pies and biscuits to lipstick and soap, palm oil grown on deforested land in south-east Asia will have been hard to avoid this Christmas. The vegetable oil is found in almost half of all packaged products in UK supermarkets, according to WWF.

But a growing number of towns and cities are trying to use only sustainable palm oil, helping orangutans, tigers, Sumatran rhinos and many other threatened species.

Led by Chester in north-west England, the world’s first sustainable palm oil city, restaurants, small businesses and arts venues are joining forces to eradicate deforestation-linked forms of the vegetable oil from their supply chains. A school dinner provider in Chester has even signed up, the first to be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Oxford, Plymouth and the village of Mochdre in north Wales are following Chester’s lead, with more expected to follow.

“The palm oil situation is a big problem,” says Catherine Barton, a field conservation manager at Chester zoo, who has led the sustainable city campaign after a visit to Malaysian Borneo. “Populations of forest elephants and orangutans are separated by plantations. You get human-wildlife conflict when they move into those areas. It was from working with communities that we thought as users [of palm oil], we can try to change the industry.”…

Read the whole story here.

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