Palm oil production, especially in Southeast Asia, has been linked to deforestation.
Chester, in Northwest England, is the world’s first sustainable palm oil city. With the help of small businesses, restaurants, and other venues the city is leading the fight to eradicate deforestation-linked forms of the vegetable oil from their supply chains.
According to WWF, the vegetable oil — which is mainly produced in countries like Indonesia — can be found in almost half of the packaged products in supermarkets in the UK. Aside from Chester, other places in the UK, such as Oxford, Plymouth, the village of Mochdre are also expected to join the cause and use only sustainable palm oil.
Catherine Barton — a field conservation manager at Chester Zoo who has led the sustainable city campaign after visiting Malaysian Borneo — says that the palm oil production is a big problem.
“Populations of forest elephants and orangutans are separated by plantations. You get human-wildlife conflict when they move into those areas. It was from working with communities that we thought as users [of palm oil], we can try to change the industry,” she says.
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