One of the key drivers to loss of biodiversity is loss of habitat, particularly forest habitat. While some oil palm plantations were originally established by replacing less-productive rubber or coconut plantations for example, many more have been developed at the cost of the hugely biodiverse tropical rainforest ecosystems in places like Indonesia and Malaysia.Read on about deforestation for palm oil
Because oil palm is cultivated in the tropical regions of the planet, where terrestrial biodiversity is most abundant, many species share the same landscapes. Regions historically or currently dominated by rainforests provide ideal climatic conditions for growing oil palm. Under the rules of RSPO certification, these forests must not be cleared by growers and must instead be protected. High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) areas must be conserved or enhanced. Additionally, growers are required to protect rare, threatened or endangered species encountered in their concession areas.
Responsible growers have demonstrated that the biodiversity which occurs in and around their concession areas can thrive, not only as a result of not disturbing the species or their habitat, but also by taking direct action such as developing wildlife corridors, working with communities to combat poaching, and educating their workforce on the need to protect wildlife.Want to read more about coexistence for orangutans & agriculture?
It’s not just the growers of oil palm who can make a positive difference for wildlife. Stakeholders all along the supply chain can support biodiversity by supporting sustainable palm oil, thereby rewarding the growers who are doing things right and incentivising more to come on board. Supporting smallholders is also essential; smallholders account for 40% of global production of palm oil, and unless enabled to be part of the journey towards sustainability can represent a huge collective threat to biodiversity. Consumers can play their part as well by choosing products using sustainable palm oil and communicating to brands and retailers that they expect that the products they buy are not contributing to biodiversity loss.