Palm Oil Plantations Decimate Diversity

Everyone old enough to remember the crash of the rubber plantations way back when shouldn't be too surprised that having huge mono-culture plantations is an accident ready to happen, just like having the entire world's computer populations all running on Microsoft's bug-free and virus-protected super high quality software... However, not only are mono-culture plantations a danger to themselves through the ravages of diseases, they also thrash biodiversity.

In fact, the Zoological Society of London, reports that in Sumatra 90% of the birds and mammals found in the primary, undisturbed forests were lost when the forests were replaced with palm oil plantations and over 75% of bat species were absent as well. Since bats are vitally important for such things as pollination of commercial crops, one might think that even the corporate folks cutting down all the primary forests might care, but apparently a fast buck for palm oil is the only thing on their minds.

With the rush to use palm oil as a biofuel, there's a lot more pressure now to cut more rather than less. It's a good example of why one needs to factor in all the costs of a biofuel before one assumes it is the panacea.

One supposes this should come as no surprise, as we all know that slash and burn and destruction of old, established, species rich and highly biodiverse forest to make way for tea plantations and coffee plantations is a great way to ruin the future for the next generations.


A buck in hand beats being alive to spend it later.

Science, Vol 317, 14 September 2007