Peru has just become the second South American country to promise an end to palm oil driven deforestation by 2021.
This is described as ‘a momentous win’ for wildlife and sustainable agriculture by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).
Peru has joined Colombia with the environmental pledge, made possible by the NWF, the largest private, non-profit conservation education and advocacy organisation in the United States, with more than six million members and supporters and 52 state and territorial affiliated organisations, Live Kindly reports.
The NFW and Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo – it’s local partner, worked alongside Peruvian palm oil Producers’ Association JUNAPALMA for two years in an effort to achieve the current agreement.
Kiryssa Kasprzyk, who led the NFW’s work on the agreement, said in a statement:
This commitment is a momentous development for the people of Peru and the global effort to confront climate change. It underscores that we can feed the world without hurting biodiversity or clear-cutting tropical forests.
Palm oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the fruit and the seeds of the oil palm and can be found in at least half of all packaged goods found in UK supermarkets.
Around 66 million tonnes of palm oil are produced every year, according to the Independent. The oil will often be listed under various different names such as kernal, fruit oil, palmate and stearine and is used in goods like bread, cereal, chocolate, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning products and biofuel to name a few.
However, production of the oil sees forests being burned down to make room for plantations, contributing to climate change and destroying habitats. Last year, Peru lost 140,000 hectares of forest, putting the country in seventh place in terms of forest loss, according to Global Forest Watch.
Deforestation is thought to be responsible for 10 per cent of all global emissions, thanks to greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere when trees are cut down.
Aside from the effects on climate change, palm oil production has also driven orangutans to the verge of extinction with them now being classified as critically endangered. According to Greenpeace, Orangutan populations in Borneo more than halved between 1999 and 2015.
Peru and Colombia’s commitment is in alignment with the Joint Declaration of Intent, signed by Norway and Germany, and intends to end deforestation by 2021.
It also aligns with a recent climate change report outlining the importance of maintaining forests and sensitive habitats in South and North America in a bid to help fight climate change.