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The GreenPalm market has now closed for trading. To support RSPO certified sustainable production via the Book and Claim option please refer to Palmtrace at www.rspo.org

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Certified sustainable palm oil

The social and environmental impact of palm oil 

Palm oil plantation

Globally there are between 12 and 13 million hectares of palm oil plantations. The majority of these are located in Indonesia and Malaysia.  


Palm oil has been linked with the destruction of the world's precious rainforests. Development of new oil palm plantations, coupled with smallholders expanding their farms to meet the rising demand for palm oil, has resulted in significant deforestation.


Threat to species survival

The removal of acres of rainforest threatens the rich biodiversity in these finely balanced ecosystems, along with the habitat of species such as the orangutan. In 1990 there were around 315,000 orangutans. Today it's estimated that fewer than 50,000 exist in the wild, split into small groups with little chance of long-term survival. The orangutan is only one of a number of species facing extinction as a result of deforestation. While palm oil is not the only cause of deforestation, it does play its part. 

WWF - How our consumer choice affects wildlife 

Interested in supporting the survival of the orangutan? 

"Securing safe forest habitat is the single most important thing we can do to save the orangutan from extinction."

Michelle Desilets
Executive Director, Orangutan Land Trust

 Find out more


Environmental damage

The removal of forest releases carbon into the atmosphere, speeding up global warming. In the tropics, tree roots anchor the soil. Deforestation removes this important structure, allowing heavy rains to wash away nutrient-rich soil. Crop yields begin to decline and farmers then have to use expensive fertilizers, which eat into their profits and further damage the environment


Social consequences 

While the global palm oil market creates an opportunity to bring many communities out of poverty, the race for land rights has left many locals on the losing team. Reports of displaced communities and illegal land grabs are not uncommon. The resulting conflicts, loss of income and dependence on large plantations have had a significant impact of the social welfare of many.


The answer?

The demand for palm oil is huge and rising. Sustainable agriculture is the only way to maintain economic performance while halting the damage to the environment and farming communities. Supporting the production of sustainable palm oil is the way forward.

WWF: Sustainable palm oil – the way forward

WWF: How can palm oil be more sustainable? Graphical explanation 

Sustainable Palm Oil

Associated Downloads:
WWF Palm Oil Scorecards 09 - Onwards
Measuring global companies on their sustainable palm progress (2009 onwards).
Wild Asia Biodiversity in Plantation Landscapes - Part 1
Biodiversity for Busy Managers is an initiative by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council and Wild Asia to develop useful and practical resources for those on the front line of land development.
Wild Asia Biodiversity in Plantation Landscapes - Part 2
Biodiversity for Busy Managers is an initiative by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council and Wild Asia to develop useful and practical resources for those on the front line of land development.
RSPO - Environmental and social impacts of oil palm cultivation on tropical peat - A scientific review
This report provides an independent review of available scientific information and published literature on impacts of the use of tropical peat for oil palm cultivation in Southeast Asia.
Palm Oil – Sustainability is possible! Promotion & Certification of independent smallholders
RSPO independent smallholder certification report by GIZ - The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit an international enterprise owned by the German Federal Government.
WWF 2012 China - The Journey Towards Sustainable Palm Oil
A WWF 2012 report looking at how companies in China can get started on their sustainable palm oil journey.
WWF 2013 India - Palm Oil Market & Sustainability in India
A WWF 2013 report looking at the palm oil market in India, the largest consumer of palm oil on the planet.
WWF 2012 Palm Oil Investor Review - Investor Guidance on Palm Oil
A WWF 2012 report, Palm oil investor Guidance looking at the role of investors in supporting the development of a sustainable palm oil industry.
WWF 2012 Profitability and Sustainability in Palm Oil Production
A WWF 2012 report analysing the incremental financial costs and benefits of RSPO certification for oil palm growers.
Consumer Goods Forum - sustainability activation tool kit
The Activation Toolkit provides simple “how-to” guidelines that contain information on the rationale for addressing topics raised by Sustainability issues such as palm oil.