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Chester Zoo to advise EU on palm oil crisis

Palm oil production has led to vast deforestation. Credit: Chester Zoo

A conservation scientist from Chester Zoo has been invited to Brussels to advise politicians on how to tackle the world’s palm oil crisis.

The zoo – a world-leading expert on the subject - was asked to appear before the EU Natural Resources Commission to discuss embracing sustainable palm oil and halting deforestation.

Unsustainable production of palm oil is wiping out huge areas of rainforest - in order to provide the ingredients for food and household products consumed in the UK and around the world.

Orangutan's are being left without homes as a result of deforestation in Borneo.. Credit: Chester Zoo

The Commission is examing how the EU can best respond to the crisis.

It is the first time that Chester Zoo experts have appeared before such a committee and comes after the zoo’s conservationists spearheaded a campaign which saw Chester named the world’s first ‘Sustainable Palm Oil City’ earlier this year.

The success of the campaign could now see it scaled up and applied across EU member states.

Chester became the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City in 2019 with other UK cities, including Oxford and Newquay, now signed up to follow suit.

The movement requires restaurants, schools, workplaces and attractions across each city to support sustainable palm oil, which conservationists proclaim is the best way to prevent habitat destruction for wildlife such as orangutans.

Chester was named the world's first Sustainable Palm Oil City in 2019. Credit: Chester Zoo

Dr Simon Dowell, Chester Zoo’s Science Director, said: "We want to make sure that members of the Commission better understand the scale of the palm oil problem, deforestation and the catastrophic impact it’s having on wildlife."

He added: "When compared to other vegetable oils, however, palm oil has some distinct advantages.

"It is very high yielding and so if we were to switch from producing vegetable oil from palm oil to other sources, we would need at least six times as much land to produce the same amount of oil.

"We believe that part of the solution is embracing sustainable palm oil and halting deforestation.

“What we need to do is increase demand for sustainable palm oil – bringing individuals, communities and businesses on board.”