Charged with identifying ways to prevent the extinction of species around the world, including Bornean Orangutans, the UK’s Chester Zoo officials have determined that promoting the use of sustainable palm oil is a viable solution for halting deforestation. 

Chester Zoo Field Conservation Manager Catherine Barton explained how the zoo came to this conclusion while participating in a sustainability debate, which took place during the 2021 digital Palm Oil Trade Show. The event drew 24,000 registered participants from around the world.   

In her presentation, “Forging Viable Partnerships Towards Sustainable Palm Oil,” Barton said the zoo arrived at its decision to promote the use of sustainable palm oil after evaluating the issues: no deforestation, no fires and no planting on peat. The zoo’s conservationists also reviewed the pros and cons relating specifically to palm oil, and were impressed that it can be very versatile and that it can be produced sustainably. 

“We determined that we had to fight for the use of sustainable palm oil,” she stated. The zoo is now partnering with local governments, businesses, growers, manufacturers and NGOs to bring about change. “Our goal is to move the conversation away from boycotting palm oil to using sustainable palm oil.” Through a widespread educational campaign, Chester Zoo seeks to increase demand for sustainable palm oil, one business at a time.

The best way to realize the greatest environmental impact to have widespread acceptance and use of sustainable palm oil. Barton acknowledged, “We’re not at the end of the journey. We must move from a niche sustainable palm oil market to mainstream, mass-market solutions.”