If, as you read this, you’re eating a KitKat or reaching into a tube of Pringles, you might be interested to know that these products contain palm oil that is linked to the destruction of forests and peatlands in Indonesia.
The manufacturers of these products – Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever – are sourcing their palm oil from suppliers who aren’t picky about where they site their plantations. As the volunteers at the Forest Defenders Camp in Sumatra have seen, this includes tearing up areas of pristine forest then draining and burning the peatlands.
Indonesia’s peatlands act as huge carbon stores, so replacing them with plantations not only threatens the amazing biodiversity, including the rare Sumatran tiger, it also releases huge volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They only cover 0.1 per cent of the land on Earth, but thanks in part to the activities of the palm oil industry they contribute 4 per cent to global emissions. If expansion of the palm oil industry continues unabated, that figure can only rise.