Deforestation and palm oil

EPOA fully recognizes the problem of deforestation as a whole and continued deforestation for palm oil in particular. Many palm oil companies – including EPOA members -  are committed to zero deforestation and are actively implementing their policies. Reviewing the causes of deforestation, including that of rainforest specifically, we need to look at palm oil as well as other crops. By contributing 2,3 % of global deforestation[1] palm oil is not the largest driver[2]. In tropical areas, palm oil contributes to an estimated 5% of tropical deforestation[3]. Much of the palm oil expansion is on land that was previous cropland such as coffee or rubber, especially in Latin America, Sumatra and peninsular Malaysia[4]. Of the palm oil planted on deforested land, not all forest was primary forest before clearing[5].

We feel strongly about telling the facts, but only action will ultimately solve the problem. At EPOA we focus on the question what can the palm oil industry do to protect forests?  Together with civil society and researchers the palm oil industry has been very active in setting HCV and HCS standards to include protection of forests in RSPO standards and in corporate commitments. These definitions  are now widely accepted and used by most sustainable palm oil certification schemes and initiatives. Sustainable palm oil companies are also supporting smallholders to increase their yield and productivity. Increased yield per hectare and support in replanting will take away the need for these farmers to clear land for agriculture.

We urge all stakeholders such as governments and NGOs to cooperate and work with the sustainable palm oil industry to implement zero deforestation commitments


  • See figure  3-9 page 57. All crops together cause 19% of all Indonesian deforestation (page 56). Palm Oil causes 43% deforestation from the total of crops causing deforestation in Indonesia, i.e. 8%.
  • See figure 2-2 page 20 for global figures: ‘Global Gross deforestation 1990-2008’. 28% global deforestation by agriculture. Palm oil share is 8%, calculating 0.08*29 = 2.3% share palm oil in global deforestation.