Saturday, June 6, 2009

Indonesian rainforest worths more than palm oil?

We already wrote about major deforestation problem in Indonesia, mostly because of pulp and paper production. In Indonesia, forests clearance is taking heavy toll to make room for palm oil production on deforested land. Palm oil has recently become an important feedstock for biodiesel production, and many people decide producing palm oil driven by high profits.

What people seem to be forgetting all the time is that profits can't be more important than the rainforest conservation, regardless of current palm oil price. Rainforests are areas of richest biodiversity on our planet, and they need to be preserved at any cost. They are not only home to vast number of different animals and plants, they also protect us from climate change by sinking large quantities of CO2, and without them climate would become totally unpredictable.

But sadly people in most cases use only their economic side of brain while ecological side of the brain remains somewhere in the corner, far away from the sight, driven in the dark by the almighty dollar. Money sadly still rules the world, and thinking anything else is still nothing but uthopia. But luckily latest study showed that it can be more profitable to keep Indonesian rainforest rather than having palm oil plantations because payments to reduce CO2 emissions from the forests could generate even bigger profits than palm oil production on deforested land.

Oscar Venter from the University of Queensland was the lead author of this study that tried to find out if protection of the forests is as profitable as palm oil production. What his team of scientists did was compare the earnings from palm oil production to amount of payments to reduce carbon emissions, so called "carbon credits". The team came to conclusion that if carbon credits could be sold for $10 per one tonne, conservation of the Indonesian rainforest would be more profitable than clearing land for oil palm plantations.

Deforested land is often used for palm oil plantations.

Tropical rainforests are disappearing at an alarming rate but this still hasn't stopped deforestation in many corners of the world. People are not driven by ecological conscience but by high profits, and they make their decisions upon what is more profitable in given moment. Palm oil plantations are currently very profitable but as this latest study showed conservation can become even more profitable, and perhaps this will turn out to be crucial thing that would save our forests and rainforests.

If you look at the present carbon prices world doesn't stand the chance to fight against deforestation but investing billions of dollars into forest conservation that would help developing countries make a fair profits out of their forests could do the trick. Of course under the condition that this money doesn't end up in corrupted politicians' pockets instead coming people that need it the most. Forest funding idea to preserve our forests and rainforests has great potential but it could also very easily backfire. But on the other hand everything that has at least some chance of success in fight against deforestation is definitely worthy to give it a shot. Don't you think so?

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