Thanks to Fonterra, New Zealand is implicated in the catastrophic forest fires currently raging across Indonesia.

Fonterra currently imports a third of the world’s palm kernel expeller (PKE) to feed its industrial dairying herds, with figures reaching record highs this year. PKE is a product of the palm industry, much of which is operating unsustainably. It’s used as a supplementary feed on overstocked dairy farms up and down the country.

Decades of rampant expansion by the palm and paper industry in Indonesia has led to fires burning out of control in and around their plantations. Right now, millions of people across South East Asia are facing a fatal smog problem due to the fires, which are also rapidly destroying the habitat of a third of the world’s wild orangutans and other endangered species.

Things are so bad that Indonesia is now on track to release more carbon dioxide this year than the entire United Kingdom; and in just three weeks, the fires have released more CO2 than the annual emissions of Germany.

It has been described as the biggest environmental crime of this century.

Fonterra needs to prove that the eye-watering volumes of palm product that it brings into New Zealand are coming from sustainable sources that are not linked to the mass destruction we are witnessing.

If Fonterra can’t front up with the proof, it could mean that New Zealand is complicit in these fires and linked to the destruction of rainforests and peatland, the massive greenhouse gas emissions, and the unprecedented human suffering as a result of the smog.

The same fundamental problem that is driving the destruction of the last remaining forests of Indonesia and the animals and people that depend on them, is also driving the destruction of our land, rivers and streams here in New Zealand – it’s the desire to produce large scale, low value commodities like palm products and milk powder.

It’s time for Fonterra to stop its use of unsustainable PKE and start farming in a cleaner, safer and smarter way.

We’re calling on the CEOs of companies like Fonterra all over the world to implement an industry-wide ban on trade with companies that destroy forests and peatlands.

Sign on to save Indonesia's forests

PRESS RELEASE: Is Fonterra fuelling Indonesia’s rainforest fires?