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WASHINGTON (June 8, 2016)— World Resources Institute finds that analyzing the forests and plantations near palm oil mills can help identify deforestation risk and prevent it. Launched today on Global Forest Watch Commodities, the new PALM Risk Tool will help companies meet their zero deforestation commitments by providing much-needed transparency into the sustainability of the palm oil they buy. WRI conducted an initial analysis of nearly 800 palm oil mills across the world and classified individual mills as having high, medium or low risk of being associated with deforestation. A pilot exercise with Unilever identified 29 high risk mills which, although they represent a relatively small part of their supply chain, will nonetheless be critical for the company’s efforts to reduce deforestation. The analysis is a first indication of the potential risks, to enable Unilever to conduct further in-depth verification, help them prioritize engagement with these mills and work with them to adopt more sustainable practices in order to reduce and prevent deforestation.

New data on Global Forest Watch shows that in some of the world's most heavily forested nations, more than 90 percent of tree cover loss is happening in natural forests rather than plantations. That's a problem since natural forests, especially those in the tropics, provide much greater climate, biodiversity and water benefits over planted lands.

Mapping Tree Plantations with Multispectral Imagery: Preliminary Results for Seven Tropical Countries

Tree plantations continue to expand worldwide to meet demand for timber, wood fiber, fruits, and vegetable oils such as palm oil. Many countries report national statistics on the area of land in plantations, but the extent and locations of these plantations are often not documented. This study...

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