Palm oil threatens New Guinea's species says study: how to buy sustainably

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The Independent Online

A new report by environmental organization WWF examines the threat faced by the unique species of New Guinea, over 1,000 of which were discovered as recently as 1998-2008. The report identifies the production of palm oil as one of the major threats facing the wildlife of New Guinea; however there are several steps consumers can take to ensure that foods containing palm oil come from sustainable sources.

Palm oil is one of the few vegetable oils high in saturated fats and is extracted from the oil palm tree; the production of the oil has long been a source of contention among environmental groups and was identified in a WWF report, released June 27, as one of the major threats to wildlife in New Guinea.  

The report; titled "Newly discovered species of New Guinea (1998-2008) ," states that over the period 1998- 2008 a total of 1,060 new species were discovered on the island. In addition the island is thought to be home to between six and eight percent of the world's species, and two thirds of wildlife on New Guinea is believed to be unique to the area.  

To combat the threat posed to these species and others around the world by continuing unsustainable production of palm oil, consumers can ensure they buy from companies registered with RSPO.

The RSPO, or Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil, provides certification to companies which produce palm oil from sustainable resources and ensures that all aspects of the production are environmentally friendly.

Consumers can find retailers in their country selling products made with RSPO certified palm oil by searching the organization's website for certified companies by type, country, and name. In addition to searching the RSPO website, consumers can look for the RSPO trademark - palm tree leaves surrounded with the words "certified sustainable palm tree oil" - which will begin appearing on products by the end of this year.

RSPO search of companies -