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Is Deforestation in Colombia Caused by Oil Palm Expansion?
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering.
2020 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The palm oil industry is growing globally and palm oil is today the most used vegetable oil for biofuels, however, over the last years research has showed that it has caused great deforestation in Southeast Asia where the grand majority of oil palm is produced. There has also been reports on poor working conditions showing that the palm oil is not socially sustainable either. Colombia is the biggest producer of palm oil in Latin America, with plans of continued expansion, and they are marketing their palm oil as sustainable and not contributing to deforestation.

This report investigates the oil palm expansion in Colombia, with a focus on its links to deforestation. The research also looks into social issues connected to oil palm expansion, historically and currently. The purpose of the study was to first scope the global oil palm industry and its impacts on the world, with a focus on deforestation, and then concentrate on and investigate the Colombian palm oil since they are today the fourth biggest producer and marketing their product as non-deforesting. The investigation was conducted through a literature review and interviews with relevant stakeholders in the sector.

The results from the literature review suggest that the biggest direct driver of deforestation in Colombia is expansion for cattle, and the indirect driver is appropriation of land. Oil palm expansion has caused deforestation but not very significantly. The result from the interviews indicates that recently there has been a change of pattern of the deforestation. Earlier there were farmer deforesting smaller areas while today there are big landholders and companies deforesting bigger areas, and deforestation for oil palm is taking place illegally in these areas. Historically the palm oil industry has also been connected to social issues, such as forced displacement of people and corruption, and this might still be an issue today.

From the literature review and the interviews a conclusion could be drawn that, over the last years, oil palm expansion has not been a significant driver of deforestation. However, lately illegal deforestation for oil palm has been documented on the border to the Amazon, which shows that it is necessary with careful monitoring in areas that risk being deforested.

Abstract [sv]

Palmoljeindustrin växer globalt och palmoljan är idag den mest använda vegetabiliska oljan för biobränslen, under de senaste åren har dock forskning visat att denna olja har bidragit kraftigt till avskogning i Sydostasien där majoriteten av världens palmolja produceras. Det har också rapporterats om dåliga arbetsförhållanden, vilket visar på att palmoljan inte heller är socialt hållbar. Colombia är den största producenten av palmolja i Latinamerika, med planer på att expandera ytterligare, och de marknadsför sin palmolja som hållbar och ej bidragande till avskogning.

Rapporten undersöker expansionen av oljepalm i Colombia, med fokus på dess relation till avskogning. Undersökningen granskar också sociala problem kopplade till expansionen av oljepalm, både historiskt sett och idag. Syftet med studien var att först övergripande granska den globala palmoljeindustrin och dess påverkan på världen, med fokus på avskogning, och sedan undersöka mer noggrant Colombias palmolja eftersom de är världens fjärde största producent idag och marknadsför sig som icke-bidragande till avskogning. Undersökningen genomfördes genom en litteraturstudie och intervjuer med relevanta aktörer inom sektorn.

Resultatet från litteraturstudien visar att den största direkt bidragande faktorn till avskogning i Colombia är för att bereda mark för boskap, och den indirekt bidragande faktorn är appropriering och ackumulering av mark. Oljepalms-expandering har bidragit till avskogning men inte märkbart. Resultatet från intervjuerna visar att det skett en förändring av avkognings-mönstren de senaste åren. Tidigare var det bönder som avskogade mindre områden, medan idag är det stora företag som avskogar större områden, och avskogning för oljepalm sker illegalt i dessa områden. Historiskt sett har palmoljeindustrin haft kopplingar till sociala problem såsom tvingad förskjutning och korruption, och detta skulle fortfarande kunna vara ett problem.

Från litteraturstudien och intervjuerna har en slutsats dragits att oljepalmexpansion över de senaste åren inte har varit en bidragande faktor till avskogning. Under senare år har dock illegal avskogning för expansion av oljepalm dockumenterats vid gränsen till Amazonas, vilket visar att noggrann övervakning i områden med risk för avskogning är nödvändig.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. , p. 45
Series
TRITA-ABE-MBT ; 2016
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-267273OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-267273DiVA, id: diva2:1392137
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Examiners
Available from: 2020-02-06 Created: 2020-02-06 Last updated: 2020-02-06Bibliographically approved

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