New Zealand, the palm industry and rainforest destruction

Press release - October 22, 2009
New Zealand’s involvement in the palm industry and rainforest destruction will be the focus of a public meeting in Auckland next week.

The palm industry is coming under close international scrutiny due to its impact on climate change, the environment, biodiversity and indigenous communities. In Indonesia and Malaysia millions of hectares of old growth rainforests have been cleared to make way for palm plantations.  

In August the World Bank announced it had decided to halt all new International Finance Corporation (IFC) investments in palm oil and review existing investments, due to environmental and social concerns (1).

Next Tuesday's public meeting has been organised by Greenpeace and the Indonesia Human Rights Committee in response to recent debate over the use of palm products in New Zealand. It is being billed as a chance to learn about the campaign to stop unsustainable imports from the palm industry and protect the old growth forests and people of Indonesia.

Earlier this year Cadbury was forced to removed palm oil from its chocolate bars in response to consumer pressure.

Over the last six weeks Greenpeace has drawn attention to two shipments of palm based animal feed (PKE), destined for Fonterra dairy farms, entering New Zealand and called on John Key to halt imports of the product due to its devastating impact on climate change and the fact it is not needed for New Zealand farming.

Following the blockade of a shipment in the Port of Tauranga deputy Prime Minister Bill English conceded palm kernel production had an impact on rainforest destruction (2).

Speakers at the meeting include Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner Simon Boxer, Indonesia Human Rights Committee (IHRC) spokesperson Maire Leadbeater and Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty who is sponsoring a new bill in parliament to combat deforestation.

IHRC is concerned about the impact of deforestation and palm oil plantations in Indonesian ruled West Papua and has campaigned against the import of Papuan kwila for local furniture and decking.

They will be joined by Hauraki farmer Max Purnell who recently travelled to Indonesia to assess the impact of Fonterra's palm kernel imports.

The meeting will be held at Auckland University in lecture theatre 404 of the Engineering Building, Symonds Street, from 7 - 8.30pm

Other contacts: Simon Boxer, Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner 021 905 579 Maire Leadbeater, Indonesia Human Rights Committee spokesperson, 027 443 6957 Phil Crawford, Greenpeace New Zealand communications and media 021 2299 594

Notes: (1) (2) In response to questions in Parliament about palm kernel imports, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister John Key, admitted that palm kernel harms the environment saying, "Of course, it has some impact; the Government does not deny that."

Exp. contact date: 2009-11-22 00:00:00