In these days of the World Cup, an article in The Guardian illustrates the ongoing destruction of the world's forests by pointing out that in 2017 the equivalent of one football pitch-sized forest was cut down every second, an astonishing rate of destruction. In total 29.4m hectares of forest disappeared during the year, impacting negatively on climate change and contributing to a possible “sixth mass extinction”.* See:
One of the main reasons for the clearance of forests in Southeast Asia is for the planting of palm oil. Anyone who has driven through the hectares of palm oil plantations that dominate the landscape in large areas of Malaysian and Indonesia will be aware of how monotonous and sterile the plantations are. Another recent article in The Guardian examines this in some detail. See:
An analysis, from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), found that rainforest destruction caused by palm oil plantations damages more than 190 threatened species on the IUCN’s red list, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia. Unfortunately, palm oil is here to stay; it provides a third of the world’s vegetable oil and the alternatives (soy, corn, rapeseed) require even more land than palm oil. The call is, therefore, for a controlled and sustainable planting of oil palm, a policy that governments and producers seemingly often only pay lip-service to.
* The Sixth Extinction; An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. Bloomsbury 2014.