Derived from the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis, native to west and southwest Africa) palm oil is extremely versatile. It can be used as a cooking oil, converted into biofuel and is commonly found in both food and personal care products around the world. Because of its many uses and its high oil yield compared to other plants, palm oil is increasingly in demand. Oil palms are typically grown on monoculture plantations, which are often associated with deforestation, destruction of wildlife habitat, and human rights violations.
While the vast majority of palm oil production takes place in Southeast Asia, investments and production in West Africa are growing. In 2009, Sime Darby signed a 63-year concession for 220,000 hectares in northwestern Liberia to develop oil palm and rubber plantations. However, facing tighter environmental regulations and pressure, Sime Darby announced in late 2019 they would divest from Liberia.
CSF is currently working with UNDP-Liberia to develop a targeted scenario analysis for palm oil for this concession, which is now owned by Manco Palm Oil Industries. The analysis will demonstrate that there is a sustainable management alternative for palm oil production that maximizes commercial viability, social equity and environmental responsibility. Our hope is that this analysis will better inform decision makers within the Government of Liberia and build support for the sustainable cultivation of this concession. With this analysis, CSF and UNDP-Liberia will provide an approach to sustainable palm oil cultivation that benefits both the company and local communities, while also contributing to national economic development.
The project is one of several UNDP Targeted Scenario Analyses (TSAs) being implemented by CSF. TSAs are designed to “capture and present the value of ecosystem services within decision making, to help make the business case for sustainable policy and investment choices.”(1)
Photo: Aerial view of oil palm plantation
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