Global demand for biofuels to slow in decade ahead, says forecast

Corn will become less important and sugarcane will become the dominant feedstock for making ethanol in the coming decade, said an agricultural outlook published jointly by the OECD and FAO on Wednesday. The report forecast a relatively slow growth rate for biofuels, averaging 0.6 percent a year worldwide, with growth in the United States constrained by declining gasoline consumption.

A novel approach to deforestation may also offer a pandemic safety net

A novel conservation group in western Borneo offers healthcare services and training in sustainable farming to curb illegal logging. In the process, the group may have come up with a blueprint to stop diseases from making the deadly leap between wildlife and people, Brian Barth writes in FERN's latest story produced with Popular Science. (No paywall)

As agriculture expands, tropical forest losses soar

In September 2015, UN member states set a goal of halting deforestation by 2020 as part of its “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” But according to Frances Seymour, distinguished senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, “we seem to be going in the wrong direction.” Satellite data gathered by the University of Maryland and recently released via Global Forest Watch, an online forest monitoring platform directed by the WRI, indicate that 2019 was the third highest year for tropical primary forest loss since the turn of the century.

Peatlands, not rainforests, hardest hit in Indonesia fires

Forest fires burned 1.64 million hectares across seven provinces of Indonesia this year, with peatlands accounting for 41 percent of the area lost to flames, said the Center for International Forestry Research on Monday. The figures, based on satellite data, show that only a portion of the the fires could be attributed to direct land-clearing work for palm oil plantations.

U.K. retailer, Citigroup take actions against palm oil

It was a tough week for the multibillion-dollar palm oil industry. A British grocery chain with 900 stores said it would remove all palm oil from its branded products by the end of 2018, and Citigroup announced it would suspend loans to IndoAgri, the agribusiness arm of Indonesia’s largest conglomerate, the Salim Group. No paywall

Indonesian Papua, the new frontier of palm oil plantations

In three months at the end of 2017 and start of this year, some 2,300 hectares (9 square miles) of forest in Indonesian Papua, the western half of the island of New Guinea, were cleared, most likely for palm oil plantations, says a new report from the World Resources Institute. Based on …

Commerce Department authorizes anti-dumping duties on imported biodiesel

Biodiesel makers in Argentina and Indonesia should face anti-dumping duties of up to 277 percent on their shipments to the United States, ruled the Commerce Department in a case brought by domestic producers.

Report: Biodiesel driving deforestation and host of other problems at home and abroad

An investigation by activist groups Mighty Earth and ActionAid USA challenges the notion of biodiesel as the environmentally responsible fuel of the future. Burned: Deception, Deforestation and America’s Biodiesel Policy claims that growing demand for biodiesel in the U.S. contributes to a host of problems, from deforestation in Argentina and Indonesia to algae blooms in Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.

Farmers murdered to make way for palm oil

Six indigenous farmers were brutally killed in Peru by land traffickers trying to make way for a palm oil plantation, adding to the more than 120 environmental and land defenders who have been murdered around the world in 2017 alone.

Palm oil’s hidden presence in personal care products prompts reform

Consumers are beginning to recognize the huge environmental costs of palm oil use in the packaged foods industry, but what’s less known is how widely the ingredient is used in everyday products sold by the personal care industry. In FERN’s latest story, “The Makeover,” Jocelyn Zuckerman reports on this industry and its attempts to reform its supply chain in a story produced with Vogue Magazine. (No paywall)

Palm oil industry confronts its human rights problem

In the last decade, consumers across North America and Europe have become increasingly aware of the environmental costs of producing palm oil, now the world’s most widely consumed vegetable oil. The industry’s social problems, however, have remained largely in the dark.

A growing list of clothing companies vows to stop destroying rainforests

Ralph Lauren Corp. joins a growing number of fashion companies that have pledged to not use products derived from cleared forests or that required grabbing land from indigenous people, says Reuters. The company says it has new plans to track its sourcing and avoid parts of the world that practice extreme deforestation and human rights abuses.

US wins WTO case over Indonesian limits on food imports

A WTO dispute panel agreed with the United States and New Zealand on all 18 points of their challenge of Indonesian trade barriers to imports of fruit, vegetables and meat. The U.S. trade representative's (USTR) office said removal of the barriers could lead to a vast increase in sales of the goods affected by the licensing rules, which totaled $87 million in 2015.

Indonesia strengthens moratorium against conversion of peat lands

Researchers say Indonesia is clearing more forest land – as much as 2 million acres a year – than any other nation in the drive to produce palm oil and logs for paper mills. The government tightened a moratorium against converting peat swamps to plantations this week, said Associated Press, a step that a conservation group says will reduce fires during the dry season and could cut Indonesia's greenhouse gas emissions substantially.

Land-clearing a factor in fires that led to 100,000 deaths

More than 100,000 people died prematurely because of smoke and haze created by vast forest fires, mainly in Indonesia, last year, said the New York Times, pointing to research by two U.S. universities. The blazes destroyed more than 10,000 square miles of forests and began with fires intended "to clear land for palm oil plantations and other uses," said the newspaper.

Small-scale farmers embrace monoculture in rain forest

Just like the operators of large-scale plantations, small-scale farmers in Southeast Asia chop down rain forests to plant oil palm trees, says a study led by a researcher from Lund University in Sweden. “For the great majority of small farmers, chopping down diverse forests and investing in a single species of tree – monoculture – is the simplest and quickest path out of poverty," says the researcher Yann Clough.

Indonesia’s palm-oil plantations are turning villagers into poachers

The rampant destruction of rainforest by the Indonesian palm-oil industry is leaving villagers with few options but to poach species like the Helmeted Hornbill to extinction, says Jocelyn Zuckerman in FERN’s latest story, published with Audubon Magazine.

When fishermen are slaves, labor audits mean nothing

“We found men in cages and being beaten,” said AP reporter Robin McDowell over Skype at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Food Institute in Monterey, Calif. McDowell, along with her colleagues, helped rescue more than 2,000 Southeast Asian men from slavery during a months-long investigation into labor abuses in the global fishing industry, especially in Indonesia and Hawaii.

Borneo’s ancient forests vanishing at faster rate due to palm oil

A new study found that 18.7 million hectares of old-growth forest in Borneo were cleared between 1973 and 2015, but the pace increased dramatically after 2005 with the expansion of palm oil plantations, according to a report in Mongabay, a conservation news site. Of the total cleared, 4.5 to …

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