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Palm Oil Production Is Driving Endangered Species To Extinction

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The International Union for the Conservation for Nature or IUCN warned about the dangers posed by palm oil production particularly on wildlife.

Palm Oil Production Effect On Animal And Plant Life

The international conservation group said that production of the commonly used vegetable oil has decimated the animal and plant life in Indonesia and Malaysia. It also threatens the pristine forests in South America and Africa.

IUCN said that habitat loss linked to expanding palm oil plantations pushed some of the iconic species, which include tigers, orangutans, and gibbons to the brink of extinction. Endangered species are driven into the brink of extinction as a result of their habitats being destroyed for palm oil production.

The lucrative crop was found to have harmed 193 animals and plants included in the IUCN's Red List of endangered species.

Deforestation

It is estimated that palm oil production is behind about 8 percent of the world's deforestation between 1990 and 2008. Half of the rainforests in Borneo that were lost from 2005 to 2015 were impacted by plantation development.

The World Wildlife Fund said that an area equivalent to the size of 300 football fields is being cleared per hour to make way for palm oil production. Worldwide, palm oil plantations make up 250,000 square kilometers, an area comparable to the size of Italy or the state of Arizona.

The areas where palm oil plantations are poised to expand are home to two-thirds of the world's threatened birds, and half of the threatened mammals.

"The plant depends on high temperatures and high humidity and its ecological niche, therefore, overlaps to a high degree with areas of high biodiversity value in current or former tropical rainforest areas," the Oil Palm Task Force said.

Other Effects Of Palm Oil Production

Palm oil production may also contribute to climate change and pollution when deliberate fires to clear forests release smog and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The environmental organization Rainforest Rescue likewise warned that smallholders and indigenous people who have lived and protected the forests for generation are being driven away from their land.

"In Indonesia, more than 700 land conflicts are related to the palm oil industry. Human rights violations are everyday occurrences, even on supposedly "sustainable" and "organic" plantations," Rainforest Rescue said.

Products That Contain Palm Oil

Palm oil is used in food such as margarine, pizzas, bread, chocolate, instant noodles and ice cream. It is also present in soaps, detergents, biofuel, and body creams.

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