Palm oil, extracted from the fruit of the oil palm tree, is an globally important component of a surprising number of processed foods – used in biscuits, margarine, sweets and chocolate, breakfast cereals, crisps, pizza, bread and all sorts of other products.
Indonesia is the largest palm oil producing nation, and unfortunately has a history of felling its ancient tropical forests in order to develop large palm oil monoculture plantations. Indonesia’s rainforests are some of the most ecologically diverse in the world, home to numerous wildlife, including the critically endangered orangutan.
In 2009 the film maker Patrick Rouxel independently produced the powerful film Green about the fate of a particular Indonesian orangutan, and the story of devastating deforestation and the associated trade in timber and palm oil.
He describes his witnessing of the large scale environmental destruction of Sumatra and Kalimantan as “overwhelmingly depressing” and argues that as consumers we are all part of this process.
Photo by from Wikicommons