Draining peatland releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the world's atmosphere and is the main reason Indonesia is the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the US.
By encouraging the use of palm-based animal feed from cleared
rainforests, and by pushing an intensive industrial farming model
in New Zealand, Fonterra is actively contributing to one of the
world's largest causes of greenhouse gas emissions.
The iconic New Zealand dairy giant is pushing it's farmers to
use hundreds of thousands of tonnes of palm-based animal feed from
South-East Asia's palm oil plantations planted on land that was,
until recently, covered by rainforest.
Fonterra's half-ownership of a company called RD1, a major
importer of Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) for animal feed, and an
industry model which is driving New Zealand farmers to an ever more
intensive use of animal feeds such as PKE. Fonterra is helping to
fuel the logging of Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests and
driving up New Zealand's contribution to global greenhouse gas
A Greenpeace investigation
A small team from
Greenpeace New Zealand have spent the past months delving further
into Fonterra's climate crimes.
Much is known about the destructive palm oil industry but little
focus has been directed on another product of palm - palm kernel
animal feed (technically known as palm kernel expeller or PKE). PKE
is made from the kernel of the fruit that comes from the palm
Last year New Zealand imported a whopping one quarter of the
world's PKE production - a figure confirmed by the United States
Department of Agriculture. For such a small country it's shocking
to learn that we have such a major role in sourcing this
destructively produced animal feed.
Figures also show that in the last decade our imports have grown
2700 per cent from 400 tonnes to over 1.1 million tonnes. The
reason? To feed New Zealand's growing dairy herd.
While Fonterra farmers (95 per cent of farms in New Zealand are
part of the Fonterra cooperative) are using this feed to boost
production, the cooperative is also involved in the PKE supply
chain through its half owned RD1 subsidiary. RD1 has close links
with Wilmar International - one of the world's
biggest rainforest destroyers. The palm-based animal feed that RD1
imports comes exclusively from Wilmar.
Wilmar has been the at centre of much attention for its part in illegal forest
destruction, illegal fires on carbon rich peatlands, destruction of
endangered animal habitat and creating social conflict by illegally
taking community lands.
It owns over 500,000 hectares of land - mainly in Indonesia and
the majority of this is yet to be cleared for palm plantations.
On the ground in Indonesia
We wanted to show New Zealanders the impact Wilmar,
RD1 and Fonterra are having in Indonesia. We wanted to do it
together with independent voices, so we travelled to Sumatra with
an independent journalist and a New Zealand farmer, Max
Our journey covered many hundreds of kilometres from the city of
Jambi into the depths of one of the few remaining forest parks
where the roads are kept in a state of disrepair to keep the
logging trucks out. Here we saw endangered orangutan - in cages as
they are rehabilitated to go back into the wild. All the orangutan
we saw were orphaned due to the industrial palm expansion into
their forest homes.
The rehabilitation director
told us there was only a two year window in which to save what
little forest habitat remained in Sumatra. It was a sobering
thought for us all. And at a vantage point looking over 50,000
hectares of pristine rainforest which could be logged as early as
next year Max echoed our thoughts when he declared "it's just not
From the jungle we journeyed for hours, where palm plantations
stretched for as far as the eye could see. We met with two local
leaders from the village of Kuala Mulia. Their lands were taken by
the Indonesian Government, cleared, burnt and about to be planted
in palm. The company responsible - Duta Palma which supplies palm
to Wilmar. We stood on their burnt ground as they told us the
future looked bleak as they no longer had land on which to
The sadness of this experience left us silent as we continued on
to North Sumatra. Here we visited a formerly owned Wilmar palm
concession. Once the mighty Sumatran tiger roamed over the land
where we stood - but no more. All that was left was charred, burnt
land, ancient tree stumps and palm - always palm.
Indonesia's rainforests are being destroyed faster than any
other country in the world. It has already lost 72 per cent of its
large intact ancient forests. Forest destruction, fires lit for
clearing land for palm plantations and the conversion of carbon
rich peatlands are major contributors to climate change.
Indigenous leader Raji Anis stands on his land once owned by
three neighbouring villages. The land was taken from them by a palm
company then cleared and burnt to plant palm. (C) GREENPEACE / Oka
As a result, recent estimates rank Indonesia as the third
largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet after China and the
Our trip was confronting. The message we brought home was
simple; New Zealand and Fonterra must stop importing this
New Zealand should be helping to protect Indonesia's remaining
forests not destroying them.
The fonterra connection
Send a message to Prime Minister John Key asking him to act decisively to make Fonterra stop palm kernel expeller from being imported and fed to New Zealand dairy cows.
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