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Here’s where tropical forests have been destroyed for palm oil over the past 25 years

August 18, 2016

Here’s where tropical forests have been destroyed for palm oil over the past 25 years

18 August 2016
Mike Gaworecki

Most oil palm is grown in areas that were once species-rich and carbon-rich tropical forests, thanks to the fact that the crop’s natural range is limited to the humid tropics. So where are the active fronts of deforestation for oil palm? And where might they be in the future?

Palm oil has become one of the most in-demand agricultural commodities over the past several years and, as such, has also become a significant driver of deforestation. Palm oil and its derivatives are common ingredients in everything from peanut butter and snack foods to shampoo and toothpaste.

More than 80 percent of the world’s palm oil production occurs in Indonesia and Malaysia, but the patterns of deforestation associated with expansion of oil palm plantations in these two countries, and the associated impacts on biodiversity, are not necessarily the same everywhere in the world.

A new study led by researchers at Duke University that was published last month in the journal PLOS ONE looked at high-resolution imagery from 20 countries to determine where oil palm plantations have destroyed tropical forests over the past quarter century and where the crop might threaten rainforests in the future.

“Many studies focus solely on Indonesia and Malaysia, but oil palm is grown in 43 countries,” Clinton Jenkins of the Institute for Ecological Research in Brazil, a co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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