by Tom for the Orangutan Conservancy
There are certainly no shortage of smiles in the recently released Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) 2016 Impact Report. And while those smiles hint at real progress, we at OC hope to see more lasting improvements in sustainable agroforestry around the world, especially in the home of orangutans across Indonesia and Malaysia.
Palm oil plantations continue to swallow up huge swaths of land. The RSPO and its nearly three-thousand and counting members (200 US-based) are all focused on the issue at hand – seeing this cash crop produced in a way that won’t destroy the earth’s remaining pristine forests as the vegetable oil makes its various ways from plantations to supermarket shelves across the globe.
While currently only 32 members are comprised of environment or nature conservation organizations (NGOs), the increasing presence of these groups at the table is a good sign for RSPO’s most forward-thinking growers, manufacturers, processors, investors and retailers who by being part of RSPO are saying they are committed to making sustainability a reality not just a wish.
The extensive report states that palm oil can only be sustainable if it: fulfills increasing global food demand, supports affordable food prices, supports poverty reduction, safeguards social interests, communities and workers and protects the environment and wildlife. All are important and necessary, and our orangutan friends are counting on the last item for their very survival.
Please read the full RSPO report in the link above.
And much more will need to be done to achieve a truly sustainable future on the oil palm landscape. There are still numerous illegal growers who have no interest in partaking in forward thinking, eco-friendly business practices. That and inconsistent governmental positions often further cloud the issue. Palm oil is not going anywhere, but hopefully the movement to produce it sustainably will only strengthen. The Orangutan Conservancy asks our supporters to only purchase products that contain palm oil that are sustainably sourced. A great way to learn about some can be found in the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Palm Oil app.