FAQs about the Borneo rainforest

4. How was Borneo transformed into the world’s leading exporter of palm oil?

The trees, extracted in record time, were leaving huge empty spaces on the large island, which were occupied almost simultaneously with the planting of the oil palm, known for its negative environmental impact, such as soil degradation, loss of habitats and extinction of species. Shortly after Suarto’s resignation from power in 1998, a complex network of powerful families, politicians, corruption and corporations was formed, whose focus was on the oil palm business, which caused the second wave of destruction of the rainforest, which has not stopped until today.

The oil palm is a plant that in a single hectare can produce about 6,000 liters of crude oil, several times higher than that obtained with soybean oil or corn oil, which makes it very profitable. Therefore, it is preferred by large food corporations, cosmetics and other products, although some of them, in recent years have canceled their relations with the large suppliers of the questioned raw material.
Due to the high demand, huge areas of Borneo were deforested to accommodate a larger number of palm oil plantations. The cultivation of this plant increased in Indonesia from 600,000 hectares in 1985 to more than 6 million hectares at the beginning of 2007. Borneo, after the great deforestation, became the world emporium to produce palm oil. According to FAO data, for 2013 the two largest palm oil producers in the world were Indonesia, with about 27 million tons and Malaysia with 19 million tons. With the sum of both countries Borneo was awarded a total of 46 million tons, much higher than the two million tons of Thailand, a country that ranks third.

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