Indonesia's rainforests shelter an amazingly rich number of plant and animal species, many of which occur nowhere else on earth. The orang-utan, Sumatran tiger and the world's largest flower, the one metre Wide Rafflesia, all call the Paradise Forests their home. The human communities inhabiting these forests have deep cultural, spiritual and physical connections to the forest for thousands of years. The diversity of these cultures is extraordinary.
Indonesia is now the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter, after China and the US, despite its relatively small area and population. Deforestation and peat land destruction are the reasons why – up to four percent of global greenhouse gases are estimated to come from the destruction of Indonesia’s peat lands. The palm oil industry is acknowledged as one of the primary drivers of deforestation and peat destruction, along with the pulp paper and mining industries.
Palm oil is used as cheap cooking oil and in most processed foods (chocolates, ice creams, instant foods, baked goods etc), in cosmetics, soaps and a number of other products. India has emerged as a key market for Indonesian palm oil, surpassing China as the world’s largest importer in 2009. Indian demand for this commodity is spurring expansion of plantations into forest and peat land areas.
As part of its campaign towards zero deforestation, Greenpeace is calling for a moratorium on all deforestation and peat land destruction in Indonesia, and is asking all companies purchasing palm oil to sever links with suppliers known to be involved in deforestation and peat land destruction.
Globally, a string of large corporations including Unilever, Kraft, Mars and Nestle have made commitments to sustainable palm oil sourcing in response to public pressure over the issue of deforestation and peat land destruction.
In India, Greenpeace is asking all importers of palm oil to ensure that their supplies are not linked to deforestation or peat destruction, and to support a moratorium on forest clearance in Indonesia. It is essential that Indian companies and the Indian public let Indonesian producers know that they do not want palm oil that is linked to deforestation or peat destruction. Under a moratorium, the palm oil industry is free to continue operations on existing plantations, and expand in non-forest areas. But deforestation and peat destruction must stop.