Palm oil production has expanded massively, from 6 million hectares in 1990 to 16 million in 2010.
Photo: © Rainforest Action Network / Flikr.com

18.08.2016

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A new study shows to where and to what extent palm oil plantations could be expanded, while avoiding further deforestation in pristine and carbon-rich tropical forests.

Land used for palm oil production could be nearly doubled without expanding into protected or high-biodiversity forests, according to a new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change in July 2016. The study maps land suitable for palm oil production on a global scale, while taking into account environmental and climate considerations.

Palm oil production has expanded massively, from 6 million hectares in 1990 to 16 million in 2010, an area about the size of Uruguay. The oil, which is used for cooking and as a food additive, now accounts for about 30 per cent of all vegetable oil used worldwide.

Palm oil demand is expected to grow

Palm oil is controversial, in particular because much of this expansion came at the expense of biodiversity-rich tropical forests, which were cut to make room for new plantations. But oil palm farming has also contributed to lifting millions of people out of poverty in Indonesia and Malaysia, the top palm-oil producing countries.

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