CNN's Dan Rivers reports on efforts to improve biodiversity on palm oil plantations in Malaysia.
Palm oil plantations carry a history of controversy. The cash crop is used for fuel and food, but at the same time, it destroys rainforests. Also, according to a recent Reuters article, compared to diverse forests, monoculture plantations do not trap greenhouse gases as efficiently.
These challenges are no more visible than on the United International Enterprises Estate, located in the Majung District of Malaysia. The plantation has over 1.4 million trees. Unfortunately, they are all the same.
But this plantation's manager is ready to take action. A nature reserve has been created on the plantation, populated by rare trees. The manager's goal is to increase the plant diversity to 500 plant variations.
The plantation is the first to be certified by the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil Production, a group working to make palm oil more eco-friendly. Through this effort, plantations are required to set aside land for jungle regeneration and engage in other sustainable practices. Critics claim the effort is just an attempt to improve the image of palm oil, but hopefully the changes will have a positive impact. As tree guru James Kingham states, his goal is to create "a Noah's Arc of biodiversity."
Are the efforts enough to turn a notoriously destructive industry around, or is it simply a greenwashing maneuver to distract from the truth? Let us know what you think in the comments.