The Impact Of Palm Oil On Rainforests

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees. It is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. More than half of all packaged products American consume contain palm oil. You can find it in lipsticks, soaps, detergents, ice cream or cookies for example. Palm oil is so popular because it is a very efficient crop and has low costs. The oil palm tree grows in the tropical rainforest. Plantations are spreading across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Indonesia and Malaysia make up over 85% of the worldwide palm oil supply. 

However, the production of palm oil also has an immense impact on rainforests that are very important to our world and our climate. Not only are rainforests a home to a great diversity of animals and plants but they also produce about 20% of our oxygen and store a huge amount of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, rainforests are helping to regulate our global temperature and to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. 

As I mentioned before, the oil palm tree grows in the same area as the tropical rainforests. Due to the uncontrolled clearing of land for conventional oil palm plantations, we’re losing irreplaceable rainforests. Often the tropical rainforest is burned down in these areas to create space for oil palm plantation. Sometimes, these fires get out of control because of the drier weather conditions. The deforestation of the tropical rainforest is a massive problem. It destroys the habitat of endangered species such as orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers. In addition, huge amounts of emission are getting released into the atmosphere while burning and destroying rainforests. Some of the chemicals that are used on palm oil plantations cause pollution of the soil and water in those areas. This affects the indigenous people that live there. In some parts of Asia, palm oil is estimated to cause almost half of all deforestation. 

Some of the most popular replacements for palm oil are canola and sunflower seed oils. However these plants also require a lot of water and time to grow and often come at a higher cost. The closest replacement would probably be single cell oils from algae or yeast. There are some labels that claim “sustainable palm oil” but there is also some criticism about that. Oil palm trees grow in the same areas as the tropical rainforest, so the rainforest has to be destroyed in order to grow palm trees. And the deforestation of our rainforests is not very sustainable. 

In my opinion, companies should focus more on the environmental impact of their products. We can’t continue to burn down the rainforests that are so important for our climate. I think that there should be more research about finding and using more sustainable ways to produce all these kinds of products that include palm oil. 



Did you know about the environmental impact of palm oil?

Do you pay attention to whether your products contain palm oil or not?

Do you think we have to do more to prevent more rainforest deforestation?



You need to be a member of History 360 to add comments!

Join History 360

Replies are closed for this discussion.


  • Great topic choice! No one has done this ever before. +5 Super job Laura!

  • I did not initially know the negative effects of palm oil on the environment until I read this. I do not pay attention to whether or not the things I buy have palm oil in them. I think we SHOULD  prevent rainforest deforestation but I do not think that we can get everyone to agree to stop.

  • I did not know any about palm oil. I do not pay attention to any of the products I get becuase I don't do any of the shoping in my family. I think that deforestation is a bad thing and I feel we should do more about that because with the population continuing to grow more and more products need created so more bad things are put into the air and all these other things so we need the forests to help counteract that.

    • I agree with you that we have to find more sustainable ways to produce products . 

  • I have never known the impact of palm oil. In fact, I have never really known what it is. Because of this, no, I never pay attention to whether the products that I purchase contain palm oil or not. I think we should do more to prevent rainforest deforestation.

    • I agree with you

  • I do not know much about how palm oil impacts the environment and the species. I do not pay attention to rather my products have palm oil or not. I think there is a little more we could do to prevent deforestation. Deforestation could be a good reason why we run out of oxygen.

  • I dont every look at what the product is made of beacues ushally I dont think it is hurting any think, but know I am going to look at what things are made of. I dont know if we can do anythging abount deforstation becasue every one useses wood.

    • That's great that you want to pay more attention to the ingredients of your products.

  • I do not pay attention whether or not the products I use contain palm oil or not and until I read this I had no idea about the affects that palm oil has on the environment. But, I think that if it has a major negative impact on the environment there needs to be something done about it to better it.

This reply was deleted.
eXTReMe Tracker