Friday, September 23, 2005

A good cause

The oil for ape campaign calls for:

  • an immediate end to all forest conversion to oil palm;
  • recognition of the customary land rights of local people;
  • reform of UK company law.
The first two demands sound good as ideals. But a scientist who has worked for many years in the region on oil palm and conservation tells me she thinks neither is achievable or wise as a campaign goal. The pressure for conversion to oil palm plantation is just too great. Better - in the sense it might actually be feasible - to pressure for mosaic of pattern of development that allows for corridors of older or logged over forest in between new plantations in which organg-utan and other animals can survive.

As for land rights for local people, well, yes, but be real about the way political power operates.

This scientist agrees, however, that pressure applied to big companies in consumer countries can work. It just needs to be well directed. So it may be that the third demand, timed as it is for the Company Law Reform Bill, can be more gounded.

FOE is bold here, with "every little hurts". How's about those words on banner beneath a picture like this outside your local branch of Tesco's?

But what about the rest of big consumer country oil palm demand - the other [90% or more?] in continental Europe, the US, Japan, China etc?

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