Author: Marcel Silvius
Oil palm cultivation on peatlands is seen as an attractive option for many plantation developers in Southeast Asia. Not only is the land extensively available, the soils – despite the poor soil fertility – are somehow “working” for oil palm cultivation. Peatlands can therefore be perceived as lucrative and attractive for expansion of oil palm plantations.
So why then is oil palm on peat a path to disaster? We highlight two major impacts in this article. Firstly, peatland drainage for oil palm results in substantial carbon emissions. Secondly it results in flooding and land loss as a result of soil subsidence. We also offer some solutions.
Full article featured in sustainable Palm Oil: Conversation and Debate
Medan, Indonesia – 11th Annual Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil
Oil palm growers, the food, cosmetics and oil industry, governments, scientists and environmental and social groups from all over the world participate this week in the 11th Annual Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT11 RSPO). The main theme of this year’s meeting is “RSPO Standard 2013. Understand. Apply. Embrace”. Wetlands International has been involved in the review process of the RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) and will actively participate in the Roundtable meeting.
Brussels, Belgium – Wetlands International is deeply concerned about the European Commission's announced approval of a biofuel sustainability scheme for palm oil certified by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This development will open the EU doors to palm oil under the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) without any guarantees that this will contribute to climate change mitigation or safeguard forests and tropical peatlands.
Brussels, Belgium – The European Commission announced yesterday that it will not consider indirect land use change (ILUC) in sustainability requirements for biofuels. Wetlands International is deeply disappointed. This proposal undermines the objective of EU biofuels policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the additional decision to limit the use of food crops as fuel is welcome, the omission of ILUC factors has direct detrimental consequences for both wetlands and climate.
New York - In September 2011 Wetlands International announced its Commitment to Action under the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which is ‘Securing Wetland Carbon Stores for Climate’. The aim of this global NGO is to achieve emission reductions in the order of at least 100 megatons by 2015 through the conservation and rehabilitation of carbon-rich wetlands. Now, one year later, they are well on the way to achieving their commitment.
Bucharest, Romania - The 11th meeting of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands concluded last week in Bucharest with the adoption of 22 resolutions on issues addressing the wise use of wetlands in 162 signatory countries. Wetlands International welcomes several decisions including the recognition of the overuse of pesticides and growing impacts of foreign-based land investment on wetlands. While many of the resolutions provide needed guidance to address threats facing wetlands, resolutions needed to address cross-sectoral challenges such as climate change and energy remain weak.
Buenos Aires, Argentina - Wetlands International in Argentina has become a member of the Round Table on Responsible Soy to help addressing the loss of wetlands and their values in the guidelines for responsible soy. Wetland areas are severely threatened by the expansion of soy cultivation due to water extraction, pollution and reclamation, with considerable costs for society.
A firestorm is sweeping across Tripa’s protected peatswamp forests, endangering the last few hunderd Orangutans remaining in this threatened area. The fires seem a direct result from draining for illegal palm oil expansion into the area. Wetlands International is saddened by the devastation of this forest; the organisation has called for many years for a better conservation of the precious old growth forest.
Bonn, Germany - A team of Wetlands International is present at the UN Climate meeting in Bonn (SBSTA), advocating for wetland conservation in the light of climate change. There we participate in two Side Events and bring our points across in the subsequent Adaptation Fund Board meeting as well.
An increasing part of Malaysia’s palm oil is produced at the account of huge areas of tropical peatswamp forests. Especially in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, expansion of oil palm plantations may lead to the complete loss of these vast, unique forests by the end of this decade. This is shown by new figures from Wetlands International and Sarvision.
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