Research in Focus
In 2010 Greenpeace launched a high profile campaign against Nestlé, claiming that the consumer goods company sourced its palm oil from companies who deforested important orangutan habitat to grow the crop, and demanded that Nestlé “give rainforests a break”. This and other impactful campaigns have brought the palm oil debate to the attention of the public and forced companies to reconsider how the palm oil they use is produced.
But the problem is far from straightforward.
Palm oil is in everything from chocolate and bread to cleaning products and lipstick. It is a cheap, versatile and productive crop that has created huge economic benefits for the tropical countries where it is grown. And it is not just governments and large corporates that benefit: a large proportion of palm oil is produced by smallholder farmers. Unfortunately, it grows best in areas where rainforests exist, leading to large scale deforestation which threatens biodiversity and releases carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change. Cutting edge research at York is attempting to reconcile our need for palm oil with the necessity to protect our precious rainforests by investigating ways in which oil palm landscapes can be planned and managed better to avoid biodiversity losses.
This exciting immersive exhibition invites you to explore rainforest and oil palm landscapes, question your preconceptions, investigate the complexities of the issues in the palm oil debate, and to discover how science can help provide solutions to these difficult problems.
Speaker biography: Dr Jennifer Lucey is a NERC-funded Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the University of York. Her research background is in tropical biodiversity ecology and she has spent lots of time conducting field work in rainforest and oil palm landscapes in Borneo (SE Asia). She now focuses on facilitating the effective uptake of science into policy and works closely with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (voluntary certification standard for sustainable palm oil), consumer goods companies, oil palm growers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), communicating the scientific evidence base to improve sustainability.
Each Research in Focus event is followed by a drinks reception, a photographic exhibition and a 3Sixty immersive installation in the Ron Cooke Hub.