A 2009 Greenpeace investigation revealed that the iconic New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra is implicated in Indonesian and Malaysian rainforest destruction, dead orangutans and driving global greenhouse gas emissions.
Here's how Fonterra's intensification model drives palm-based animal feed demand:
Fonterra has introduced supplementary feeds such as imported palm-based animal feed which is changing dairying from pastoral to industrial. Palm-based animal feed imports have increased 2,700 fold since 1999. This is part of an overall trend of intensification of dairying in New Zealand. Agriculture is responsible for 49% of NZ's domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
This increase doesn't factor in indirect emissions from forest destruction in Indonesia to grow supplementary feed for NZ's dairy herds. Though some palm products are certified as sustainable through the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), this is a weak certification by a self governing body. As it is, only 4% of all palm products produced globally are certified under the RSPO.
There is no need for New Zealand dairy to be produced at the expense of Indonesian rainforests, endangered orangutans or the climate. The solution is Smart Farming or, what's known globally, as 'bio-logical' farming. Smart farming is about reverting back to more traditional farming practices. It's about less input and better output.
It's about cutting down on chemicals, cutting back on herd numbers and looking after soil so that pastures thrive and last.
Palm plantations are destroying Indonesia and Malaysian forests and the climate
Indonesia's forests are being destroyed faster than any other forest on earth. In total, Indonesia has already lost 72% of its large intact ancient forests. A major driver of this destruction is palm plantation expansion.
Key products produced from palm plantations are palm oil (used mainly in foods, cosmetics and now biofuels) and palm-based animal feed. Forest destruction, fires lit to clear land for palm plantations and the conversion of carbon rich peatlands are significant contributors to climate change.
As a result recent estimates from the World Bank rank Indonesia as the third largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet after China and the US. It is essential to stop deforestation as it contributes around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually.