How do we protect our rainforests?

Imagine you are standing in the middle of a rainforest and all you hear are the sounds of the birds and animals – and NO chainsaws. The people you meet here live off of what the forest offers them. That is how it should remain. But rainforests are quickly disappearing at the rate of 169 trees every second – mostly to make way for palm oil plantations.

The issue: Increased demand for palm oil increases deforestation

Many of the rainforests in Asia, Africa and Latin America have already disappeared, along with their inhabitants and plant and animal life. The cause? Our need to discover ever-cheaper energy sources and natural  resources. Palm oil is currently found in some 50% of all supermarket products. It is also a major biofuel that is commonly mixed with the diesel fuel used in Europe’s diesel car and trucks. 

Establishing palm oil plantations has major consequences:

  • Certain animal species will certainly die out
  • People will be driven from their native lands
  • Increased global warming

What does any of this have to do with you and me? We consume palm oil daily in both our food and our cars. Meanwhile, banks and insurance companies lend money from our savings accounts to the big palm oil corporations. So we are, in effect, financing the destruction of the rainforests.

The solution: Regional food production and sustainable transportation

Palm oil seems to be an indispensable part of our lives. But this is not really the case. There are plenty of alternatives. For instance, we can grow our food locally. Using palm oil in fuel is simply not a good idea because it causes three times more pollution than regular fuel. A better alternative would be to switch to more sustainable forms of transport such as an extensive public transportation system.

Milieudefensie supports local groups and actively campaigns

Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) wants to prevent deforestation. We do this in two ways:

  • We support rainforest inhabitants in their struggle against the large corporations responsible for cutting down the forests. We do that by working in collaboration with the international environmental network Friends of the Earth;
  • We put political pressure on European governments to reduce the demand for palm oil in food and fuel by holding talks with members of both the Dutch and European Parliaments;
  • We put pressure on banks, insurance companies and pension funds to stop the financing of deforestation.

We do much of this work in collaboration with international organizations.
We all consume palm oil. This makes the destruction of rainforests our problem as well. We must take responsibility. It’s only fair.

Want to know more?

Contact our spokesperson Rolf Schipper -
Are you a journalist? Get in touch with our press officer Arjan de Boer -

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