The region accounts for 87 percent of global production. Borneo, who has now less than half of its rainforests remaining, hosts nearly half the world’s 18 million hectares of the crop alone. Between 2000 and 2017, the loss of 14 percent of the island’s old-growth rainforest has come at a well-known cost: devastating consequences for both wildlife and climate change.
But as agricultural land on Borneo becomes scarcer, regulations are becoming stricter, as Western consumers and NGOs pressure countries and companies on sustainability.
Instead, palm oil’s next frontier is likely to be the rainforests of the Congo Basin, in Central Africa – where a quarter of the world’s tropical forest carbon stocks are stored.
Will history repeat? Does palm oil expansion necessarily lead to rampant deforestation? A team of researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research set out to discover what Africa can learn from Southeast Asia’s mistakes and solutions – and what is different about the Congo Basin.