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Woodland Park Zoo supports certified sustainable palm oil that is deforestation-free.

Download the Woodland Park Zoo Shopping Guide to Certified Sustainable Palm Oil

palm oil fruitPalm oil is an edible vegetable oil consumed all over the world. It’s popular for good reason: it’s a relatively healthy oil with a wide variety of uses from the highly productive oil palm tree.

Despite its desirable qualities, palm oil has a dark side: oil palm agriculture contributes to widespread loss of tropical rain forest habitat, forcing many already vulnerable animals to fight for survival. Orangutans, tigers, hornbills and Asian elephants are all at risk as their homes are lost to slash-and-burn deforestation. Even the people, plants, fish and water sources suffer under the fate of unsustainable palm oil production.

Woodland Park Zoo is embarking on the journey toward sourcing and using certified sustainable palm oil that is deforestation-free, and we invite you to join us. The first step in any meaningful journey is education and preparing for the path ahead.

Begin your journey to sustainable palm oil by becoming well-informed. Use the information in the following tabs to get started.

In the News: Environmental Impact

Fire is commonly used to clear land for agricultural conversion. In Southeast Asia, many illegal fires have been set to clear tropical rain forest and peatlands for palm oil, pulp and paper, sugar and other crops. Even though there are bans on the use of fire, the laws are frequently unenforced.

Burning of peatlands is particularly problematic because they are highly effective carbon sinks. During these on-going fires, carbon and hazardous particulates are released back in to the atmosphere with each tendril of smoke. Think of it this way: burning peatlands is like setting tires on fire—they can burn, but mostly they smolder for months, releasing their noxious gasses until they stop. The burning of land in Southeast Asia is not just an environmental concern, but a human health emergency. Travel is impacted, schools are closed, and thousands—including orangutans living in the rain forests—suffer from respiratory distress.

This video from CNN illustrates the magnitude of the problem.

Palm Oil Frequently Asked Questions

What is palm oil?

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil produced from the fruit of the oil palm tree (most commonly Elaeis guineensis). Oil palm fruit is harvestable year-round, and is grown predominately in Indonesia and Malaysia (combined 25 million tons/year) (OECD/FAO 2012).

After harvesting, fresh fruit bunches are delivered to a processing plant where parts of the fruit are separated and prepared for refining. The fruit’s orange flesh (the pulp) is processed to produce oil, mostly used for cooking and stability of food products. The heart of the fruit, a white kernel, is pressed to extract palm kernel oil which is used primarily in home and personal care products.

Malaysia and Indonesia now account for about 85 percent of the world’s palm oil production (World Wildlife Fund 2002). In Malaysia alone, the amount of land used for palm oil production increased by approximately 9,763,000 acres between 1960 and 2005, from 133,436 to over 9,896,000 acres (Basiron, Y. 2007, Eur. J. Lipid Sci. Technol., 109). Currently, Malaysia harvests about 9.8 million acres per year, significantly contributing to the 40.5 million acres of oil palm grown around the world (UCS 2014). Palm oil use is expected to double by 2021 (OECD/FAO 2012).

How do I know if a product I use contains palm oil?

How is palm oil used?

What are the environmental impacts of palm oil?

Is sustainable palm oil an option?

Why not boycott all palm oil?

How is Woodland Park Zoo supporting sustainable palm oil?

What can I do?


Orangutan in the wild. Photo by Tim Laman.