How responsible palm oil production can support biodiversity

Responsible palm oil cultivation is different from conventional palm oil cultivation in that the latter is often associated with deforestation and the loss of wildlife habitats. But it doesn’t have to be this way. A 2020 research review reported that since palm is a very efficient crop compared to other oils such as sunflower and soy (requiring less land and less expense to grow) scientists are focusing on the best ways to cultivate this important crop with less impact on the environment and enhanced protection of the various species who reside in palm-cultivation areas. In fact, palm oil plantations are actually one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet—if they’re focused on sustainability and protecting the planet.

Researchers outline the following steps to grow palm in a way that protects biodiversity:

  1. Reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides, which harm the environment and downstream biodiversity.
  1. Plant on unused farmland. Turning unused farmland into palm fields can reduce carbon emissions by up to 99.7% compared to clearing rainforests. Additionally, the amount of biodiversity on unused farmlands is much lower than it is in rainforests, so planting on this unused land can actually increase biodiversity.
  1. Create wildlife corridors—a crucial piece of sustainable palm cultivation. These corridors are areas of conserved land or forests within or between plantation, which support biodiversity and allow animals to move around freely.
  1. Follow the rules set out by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to operate ethically and legally and protect, conserve and improve ecosystems.

At Daabon, we naturally answer these calls for change. An appreciation of the environment is core to what we do. In fact, we measure success not only through our profits, but also by the protection of the flora and fauna endemic to our natural environment.

Daabon never clears forest land. Our operations are completely deforestation-free. We only farm on land that has been previously farmed, and it may be surprising to hear that we actually have an extensive reforestation plan involving the planting of a wide variety of local trees, as well as mangroves along Colombia’s rivers and estuaries. We also identify High Conservation Value (HCV) areas—regions that are hotspots for biodiversity and endangered species in Colombia— and develop strategies around protecting such habitats.

Daabon maintains wildlife corridors in all of our plantations. Traditional palm oil plantations cannot support an abundance of animal habitats because there is typically only one plant species: palm. Incorporating sections—or “corridors”—of forestland into palm oil farms is a key way to increase the variety of plants and animals living in a given area. The animals typically love these corridors and spend a lot of time there! 

Daabon’s farms were the first organic palm oil farms to earn Rainforest Alliance certification for their sustainable practices. Our operations meet the rigorous environmental, social and economic criteria of the Rainforest Alliance certification. We ensure no agricultural chemicals are used in our production. In addition to protecting the earth, this is crucial to protecting all the species living on the land—anteaters, armadillos, poison arrow frogs, grey-handed night monkeys and birds—as well as the protection of bees. 

As for the RSPO, Daabon has been RSPO certified since 2010 and was also the first company in the world to become certified RSPO NEXT, a voluntary add-on to exceed RSPO’s already rigorous standards (NEXT has since been incorporated into the RSPO’s core standard). This accomplishment has been recognized globally for its significance in moving the palm industry toward more sustainable practices.

Sustainable Palm Oil Cultivation And Your Purchasing Choices

You may not even realize that palm oil is an ingredient in many of the products you may use every day, from shampoo, lipstick and soap, to chocolate, cookies and ice cream, to detergents and biodiesel.

Because palm oil is so useful and can be made so efficiently, it really is a very versatile and important product, provided we all commit to producing it sustainably. But transforming palm oil from part of the problem to part of the solution can only happen if both businesses and consumers embrace accountability and take action.

At Daabon, we believe that palm oil can be produced ethically, in a way that gives human beings the benefit of this amazing natural product without damaging the planet. For consumers, the most effective way to curb the production of unsustainable palm and help protect biodiversity is to follow this same path by getting educated and by committing to purchasing only sustainable palm. In doing so, you can help stop deforestation, fight climate change and human rights abuses, and even help save lives, both human and animal.

To protect the planet, we are protecting the only home we have. Our goal is not just to stop doing damage to the environment, but to actively improve the health of our native ecosystems and the planet as a whole. Says Manuel Torres, Daabon partner farmer: “We must take care of what we have and care for nature. Nature is life”.

Building on this commitment continuously, Daabon was proud to join the Climate Pledge this year, coming together with more than 100 top companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft and Visa, to pledge net zero carbon emissions by 2040, 10 years earlier than specified by the Paris Agreement. This involves regular reporting of emissions, a commitment to real-time changes to implement decarbonization and neutralizing of any remaining emissions with real, permanent and socially beneficial offsets. Being part of this reinforces our commitment to sustainability and demonstrates we are taking action in the most proactive possible way. There is no other way. The Earth can’t wait!