The International Forest Heroes Award was awarded to the anti-palm oil campaign this week. The decision to award this prize was based on the premise that palm oil production from South East Asia is a threat to the orang-utan and that the industry is engaged in the destruction of tropical forests.
It calls for products like Girl Scout cookies to be palm oil free. This premise is not accurate. The Malaysian palm oil industry is a global leader in sustainable production and employment, providing millions of dollars of support for conservation efforts to protect biodiversity and the orangutan, such as the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF).
Malaysian industry is leading in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Malaysia also ensures that for every one hectare of land that is converted to oil palm, four hectares are permanently preserved and at least 50 percent of the country’s forests are protected, a commitment made at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
The industry also provides sustainable jobs and a route out of poverty for many families. Small farmers play an important role, owning 40 percent of the plantations, and supporting over 1 million people. Denying market access to palm oil would devalue all of these achievements and also undermine long-term conservation efforts supported by revenue from the industry.