Palm Oil Case Study Gcse At Home

Environmental impacts:

Deforestation must occur in order to make room for palm oil plantations- this has many effects:

  • reduces biodiversity 
  • palm oil plantations absorb less CO2 from the atmosphere- global warming 
  • emissions from oil palm cultivation alone in Indonesia accounted for an estimated 2-9% of all tropical land use emissions (deforestations of tropical rainforests) from 2000 to 2010.
  • the destruction of rainforests have endangered the orangutans, Pygmy elephants, sumatran rhino's and clouded leapords. 
  • deforestation is also affecting the Dayak community that live in the rainforests as their source of water is destroyed and the materials they use to live are destroyed. 
  • 86% of deforestation in Borneo is for palm oil plantations 

Conflicts over industry:

  • most plantations are owned by the government and those that are not still get lots of funding
  • other small producers cant compete for the land etc 

Palm Oil, You, Me & Orangutans 

Products  Containing  Palm  Oil 

Objective: To study our uses of the rainforest and to find out a bit more about Palm Oil and where it is produced. 

We have seen how the indigenous people of the rainforest use their surroundings to live and survive, but how about us? How do we use the rainforest in our everyday lives and could we do without it? 

Task 1 - Using this 2014 Guardian interactive resource and the task 1 booklet below, complete all 17 tasks as set out. 
Source of Video -
So, after completing your interactive study, you will know about the following:
Palm oil is used by virtually every one of us in one form or another (see photo at the bottom of this text).  In its basic form it is used in processed or prepared foods such as bread, cakes, breakfast cereals and ready meals, as well as ice cream, margarine and crisps.  Unlike oil seed rape and sunflower oils palm oil is valued because it is solid at room temperature.  Palm oil is also cheaper than other types of oils. 

The vast majority of the worlds palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia  where the expansion of the industry has destroyed millions of hectares of rainforest.  This deforestation is said to be far greater than the rate of deforestation due to logging in the Amazon rainforest. 

In the past the majority of palm oil production has been for food and cosmetics but now the European Union have agreed to cut greenhouse gasses by 20%  by 2020 we are having to find a new source of fuel for our transport.  The answer is said to be bio-fuels however this will mean that Indonesia and Malaysia will produce more palm oil which will result in further destruction of some of the most valuable rainforest on the planet. 

The effect of this destruction will mean that many species of plants and animals that live in these rainforests  will be lost forever.  Examples of species that will be lost are the Sumatran tiger, Asian Elephant and the Orangutans of Borneo

Thanks to Melanie Richards, Head of Geography at St Ursula's Convent School in Greenwich.
The FOE (Friends of the Earth) have highlighted how the palm oil industry is having a devastating impact on the orangutans of Sumatra and Borneo.  Some orangutans are killed off as the land they live on is cleared for palm tree plantation and others are killed as they have a fondness for eating palm oil seeds.  The rate of the forest clearance along with the killing of the orangutans is happening so quickly that orangutans could be extinct within 15 years.  
  • 98% of the Indonesian forest is expected to be destroyed by 2022
  • At the moment there are between 55,000 and 60,000 Orangutans in Borneo but 5,000 to 10,000 orangutans are killed each year.

Task 2 - Read the text above and watch the Sky News video (10 minutes) to the right. Answer the following questions:

1. What is palm oil and what makes it so special?
2. Where does the vast majority of palm oil grow, use the graph to the right to help your answer?
3. Give three examples of 'everyday products' that palm oil is used to produce.
4. How can reducing carbon emissions in Europe lead to an increase in palm oil production in Malaysia?
5. Explain why orangutans are the victims of palm oil plantations. 

Task 3 - Watch the second video - Palm Oil Production. 

6. What approximate % of our shopping contains Palm Oil?
7. We must put an end to Palm Oil right? - Why might this not be the best solution & give an example.
8. So, how do we protect peoples livelihoods and the environment? Give examples from the video. 
How do I use Palm Oil - Homework
File Size: 173 kb
File Type: doc
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An alternative piece of work could be TIMBER! a role playing exercise based on the causes and effects of deforestation. Click the blue tab below to access the materials to get you set up.

The good news....

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