A new study produced by the WWF (researchers Simon, Davies, and Ancrenaz) confirms our most recent arguments: sustainable agriculture is the best tool to preserve biodiversity in the tropical forest while promoting productivity and economic development.
The results of the study show once again that it is through business investment and citizen participation that production chains become more sustainable.
According to the study, the orangutan population in the Malaysian forests of Sabah has grown from 5376 specimens in 2003 to almost 6,000 last year.
The construction of real “ecological corridors” has increased the connectivity within the forest areas facilitating the passage of the orangutans between areas adjacent to the plantations to the purest forest.
It is this connectivity that is the key to the survival and growth of orangutan specimens in the forest. This new study clearly shows us how sustainable palm oil is a valuable ally for the orangutan and that cohabitation is therefore possible.
Moving towards greater environmental sustainability requires a strong collaboration between farmers, suppliers, producers, and consumers. Fortunately, the efforts of the private sector have been combined with the sustainability policies implemented by the governments of Southeast Asia.
The palm oil supply chain was thus able to contribute to the creation of well-being for millions of people, to the reduction of poverty and inequalities, and guaranteed education and development. A sustainable supply chain, if well planned and well managed, can provide better income and employment, generating investments in innovative services and infrastructures.
Siding for the boycott does not contribute to improving the supply chain, nor does it promote sustainability. No chain of vegetable oils has reached the level of certification and sustainability that palm oil has achieved over the years at the level of scale.
Why does this supply chain get such strong opposition in Europe from NGOs and interest groups?
Discrimination is purely a commercial and ideological reason. Discrimination against this ingredient, through the famous claim “Free-From”, has been used for years in advertising or on the packaging of food products to indicate better product quality. A very useful marketing tool to inform consumers, but potentially very dangerous because it may deceive them.
The countries of South-East Asia have learned from the mistakes of the past. In a few years, they have achieved results that those in many regions of the West have not been reached in the millennia of human activity.
It is important to stick to the reality of the facts. The numbers provided clearly demonstrate how sustainable palm oil promotes biodiversity and sustainability in the forest of Southeast Asia. Sustainable palm oil – therefore jobs, prosperity, and poverty reduction – and orangutans can cohabit. The efforts of local politics and the private sector in placing greater emphasis on ecosystem protection are finally bringing important results. This is the way to follow.