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April 8, 2009

April 2009 Rainforest Destroyer -- Malaysian Oil Palm Threatens Brazilian Amazon

Oil palm to destroy Amazonian ecosystems to produce food for fuelRainforest destroyer of the month award for April goes to Malaysia's Land Development Authority (FELDA), who will soon break ground on a joint venture with a Brazilian firm to establish 30,000-100,000 hectares (75,000 - 250,000 acres) of oil palm plantations in the heart of the Amazon rainforest [ark]. Oil palm has, and continues, to devastate Asia-Pacific's rainforests. Should oil palm [search] production -- in toxic, biologically depauperate monoculture tree plantations -- become established in the Brazilian Amazon, it would be a global ecological tragedy for biodiversity and climate, and a crime against local peoples and humanity.

The venture will start with 30,000 hectares cultivated near Tefe and Manuas. FELDA has a 70 percent stake in the venture, called Felda Global Ventures Brazil Sdn Bhd, while Braspalma of Brazil holds the remaining stake.The project would include the establishment of a palm oil biodiesel production plant. There is no spare biomass to be had for fuel at the expense of the Amazon's life giving natural ecosystems.

The venture could be the first of many oil palm projects in the Brazilian Amazon, as the scourge of Malaysian oil palm development goes global. The Brazilian Congress is weighing a law that would allow landowners to count plantations as forest towards their legal forest reserve requirement. By law landowners in the legal Amazon must retain 80 percent forest cover on their holdings. A recent study estimated that 2.3 million square kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon are suitable for growing oil palm.

Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald) and Ecological Internet are committed to working together to expose the ecological damage done to forests, water, climate and local livelihoods by industrial agriculture, and its proposed expansion for agrofuels.