Palm Oil, Timber and Carbon Offsets (POTICO), a project of the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the NewPage Corporation, is making progress toward conserving rainforests in Indonesia by creating an ecologically and fiscally sustainable palm oil industry.
“Oil palm plantations are one of the leading threats to Indonesia’s forests,” said WRI president Jonathan Lash. “POTICO’s revolutionary approach will help a region grow one of its largest industries while protecting its forests.”
Palm oil is a ubiquitous ingredient used in consumer goods, such as snack foods, soaps and cosmetics. To meet growing demand, companies clear-cut large tracts of land to plant oil palm plantations. This has led to the loss of more than 15 million acres of rainforest in Indonesia -one of the top five global emitters of greenhouse gases.
The three-year initiative will help improve the global environment by diverting planned oil palm plantations away from primary rainforests and locate them in areas that have been logged and degraded. Such “swaps” will help ensure that the oil palm industry can expand to meet demand yet reduce deforestation.
The project team recently launched a Web site (ProjectPOTICO.org) with statistics and maps of deforestation in Indonesia, videos on the environmental and social impacts of unsustainable palm oil and up-to-date progress reports. In the field, the team is mapping degraded areas on the Indonesian side of Borneo and working with a number of palm oil industry players in pursuit of the first set of POTICO swaps.
“The project clearly aligns with our desire to see the world’s forests managed as sustainably as we manage our own, ultimately promoting positive climate change,” said Rick Willett, president and chief executive officer for NewPage. “We are pleased to now have a Web site where the public can learn more about the effects of deforestation around the world and strategies for fostering sustainable forest management in the future.”
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