Palm oil and Illegal Logging

Late last year (30 November 2014) the Australian Department of Agriculture (DAFF) issued a notification advising that anyone importing regulated timber products into Australia would now become responsible for providing due diligence to prove that the timber was not illegally logged.  The Illegal Logging trade causes enormous damage to forests and their local communities and wildlife.

Illegal logging is a worldwide problem, with many forest-dwelling low economic people losing out to outsiders who log for their own personal gain.

We recently had a question asked to us about palm oil and illegal logging and the correlation between the two.

What does palm oil have to do with illegal logging? We’ll start with an explanation of what palm oil is..

“Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms are originally from Western Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, palm oil is grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America, and South America, with 85% of all palm oil globally produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia; but most of the time not using sustainable measures.”

The un-sustainable measures is where the illegal logging comes into play.

In Indonesia, traditional logging has been replaced by the mass clearance of rainforest for palm oil plantations, which creates massive supplies of hugely profitable but often illegal timber.

Deforestation for palm oil plantations impacts significantly on the following:

  • Climate change – The removal of the native forests often involves the burning of invaluable timber and remaining forest undergrowth, emitting immense quantities of smoke into the atmosphere and making Indonesia the third highest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.
  • Animals – Are often injured, killed and displaced during deforestation. Palm oil development increases the accessibility to poachers and wildlife smugglers.
  • People – This industry often has devastating impacts on the people in these areas.The palm oil industry is also linked to major human rights violations, including child labour in remote areas of Indonesia.

So next time our Customs Brokers ask for due diligence on regulated timber products or you reach for a product that contains palm oil, have a think of the impact of all involved.

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