Jakarta Post editorial on the palm-oil-for-biofuels question

Even though Rhett Butler is based in San Francisco, his scope is global. Not that long ago, Butler wrote about the destruction of the Brazilian cerrado thanks, in part, to biofuel production in that country. Now his words appear in the Jakarta Post on the green-ness of palm oil. Once again, biofuels figure into his questions.

The upshot of the article is that the critical voices that environmentalists are raising against biodiesel made from palm oil is causing European policymakers to reconsider importing Indonesian palm oil to make the biofuel on the Continent. Of course, palm oil producers in South East Asia want to continue to grow and sell their crops. In rides a compromise to the rescue. Butler writes:

Writing in the scientific journal Nature, Lian Pin Koh and David S. Wilcove from Princeton University, argue that the high yield and high prices that make palm oil so attractive "could be turned to a biodiversity advantage."

They suggest that green groups could buy small tracts of existing oil-palm plantations and use the revenue they generate to acquire land to establish a network of privately-owned nature reserves for biodiversity conservation.

There are also carbon offset possibilities here. Even without selling CO2 credits, Butler says the numbers suggest to Koh and Wilcove that for each of hectare of oil palm plantation that the enviros buy, seven hectares of forest could be preserved over a 25 year period. Let's hope the forests have that long.

[Source: Jakarta Post]

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