Palm oil is a topical and controversial issue. Some claim that it’s unhealthy, others assert that it will be the fuel of our future, others still do not express any particular opinion even though they consume this product every day, often without even realizing it. Economically speaking, palm oil has proved its value; however, from an ecological standpoint it’s a disaster – too often unknown. In any case numbers speak for themselves and palm oil production is undeniably causing massive deforestation in Indonesia. Ten years ago, the country was losing 1 million hectares of forests per year. Today that number has doubled and the clearing of the land is not slowing down. If you drive through North Sumatra, you can go for hours without seeing anything but palm oil plantations and an occasionally plot of rubber trees…
The destruction of natural habitat is the first cause of species extinction: entire ecosystems are threatened, orang-utans are on the brink of extinction and many indigenous communities have seen their land fall into the hands of big palm oil companies. There are laws meant to protect the wild animals, the national parks, the traditional peoples. Of course. But there’s also a strong corruption, which is supported by a system of provincial governments and a lack of means to implement those laws.
In order to get a better understanding of what reality is like in that equatorial part of the world, we went to Borneo and Sumatra. There we met NGOs and local individuals who take action on site. They enabled us to discover how much has been lost already, but also to become aware of the fact that solutions do exist and that, no matter on what scale they’re taking place, they somehow make a difference. And that’s what we want to retain and to share.
Directors: Emmanuel Coquelou and Yanette Shalter
Language: French, English and Indonesian / English subtitles
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