The Big Picture

Palm oil production

Palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an estimated 50 percent of packaged products sold in supermarkets contain some of the ubiquitous oil. It is mainly grown in Southeast Asia and is used in products as diverse as ice cream, toothpaste, and detergent. The demand for more and more land to plant palm oil trees has seen the rapid and rampant destruction and conversion of tropical rainforest habitats into plantations. This is threatening important ecosystems, displacing and killing threatened and endangered species, among them orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos. Classified as critically endangered, on the edge of extinction, orangutan numbers have fallen so dramatically that wildlife organizations and conservationists say unless the destruction ends, we will see the end of the species.--By European Pressphoto Agency
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An Indonesian worker harvests palm fruits at a palm oil plantation in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Sept. 16. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, made from the palm fruit, followed closely by Malaysia. (Dedi Sinuhaji/EPA)
2
A Sumatran Orangutan is given medicine by staff at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP), at the Jantho Reintroduction and Quarantine Station in Jantho, Aceh Besar, Indonesia, Sept. 21. SOCP staff aim to rehabilitate orangutans for release into the wild, most having lost their habitat from widespread illegal logging and destruction of forest for palm oil plantations. (Hotli Sumanjuntak/EPA)
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An Indonesian worker uses a tall stick to reach and harvest palm fruits at a palm oil plantation in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, Indonesia. (Dedi Sinuhaji/EPA)
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Smoke rises from burning land during the clearing of more forests to plant more palm oil plantations, in Dumai, Riau province, Indonesia, Aug. 9. Natural forest is often burnt, causing large cross country smog issues in south-east Asia, in order to clear land for plantations. (Rony Muharrman/EPA)
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A truck loaded with harvested palm oil fruits at a palm oil plantation in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Sept.16. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil. (Dedi Sinuhaji/EPA)
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A newly arrived Sumatran Orangutan is carried by a staff member for assessment at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP), at the Jantho Reintroduction and Quarantine Station in Jantho, Aceh Besar, Indonesi6. (Hotli Sumanjuntak/EPA)
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Cleared land under preparation for palm oil plantations, in Rokan Hulu, Riau province, Indonesia, Aug. 28. (Rony Muharrman/EPA)
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An elephant eats palm oil leaves at a palm oil plantation in Seumanahy Jaya Village, East Aceh, Indonesia, Oct. 9. (Hotli Sumanjuntak/EPA)
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Palm oil is made from the pulp of the fruits. The palm oil fruits are collected at J.T.M palm oil plantations in Muar, Johor State, Malaysia, Oct. 31. (Fazry Ismail/EPA)
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A Sumatran Orangutan rests in a tree at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP), at the Jantho Reintroduction and Quarantine Station in Jantho, Aceh Besar, Indonesia. Palm plantations built on destroyed tropical rainforest, have seen the death and displacements of many species, including the endangered orangutan (Hotli Sumanjuntak/EPA)
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An elephant patrols to protect the palm oil plantation from foraging wild elephants, as workers transport the palm oil fruit for processing, in Seumanahy Jaya Village, East Aceh, Indonesia. (Hotli Sumanjuntak/EPA)
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A palm oil fruit is cut at a private oil palm plantation at Muar, Johor State, Malaysia, Oct. 31. (Fazry Ismail/EPA)
13
Deforested land after forest fires used to clear the forest for palm oil plantations, in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dec 3, 2015. (Bagus Indahono/EPA)
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An elephant stands amidst palm oil plantations in Seumanahy Jaya Village, East Aceh, Indonesia,Oct. 9. Domesticated elephants are being used in an Aceh administration program to patrol and chase away wild elephants eating the palm oil trees. (Hotli Sumanjuntak/EPA)
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Pickers at work at private oil palm plantations at Muar, Johor State, Malaysia, Oct. 31. (Fazry Ismail/EPA)
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A staff member observes the behavior of a rescued Sumatran Orangutan in a tree at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP), at the Jantho Reintroduction and Quarantine Station in Jantho, (Hotli Sumanjuntak/EPA)
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An elephant bathes inside a palm oil plantation before going on patrol to protect the plantation from foraging wild elephants, in Seumanahy Jaya Village, East Aceh, Indonesia, Oct. 9. Increasing numbers of human and wild elephant conflicts are recorded due to the destruction of their habitat through illegal logging and the opening of new oil plantations in Sumatra. (Hotli Sumanjuntak/EPA)
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A palm oil plantation, in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, Dec. 3. (Bagus Indahono/EPA)
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Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) staff prepare to release a Sumatran Orangutan back into the wild at a quarantine facility center in Batu Mbelin, Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Sept 19. SOCP staff aim to rehabilitate orangutans for release into the wild, most having lost their habitat from widespread illegal logging and destruction of forest for palm oil plantations. (Dedi Sinuhaji/EPA)
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Palm oil worker, Luqman Mahadi, takes a break during picking of palm oil fruits at Muar, Johor State, Malaysia. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of Palm Oil, made from the palm fruit, followed closely by Malaysia. (Fazry Ismail/EPA)
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A palm oil worker transports harvested palm oil fruits using a motorcycle in Seumanahy Jaya Village, East Aceh, Indonesia. (Hotli Sumanjuntak/EPA)
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Sodium laureth sulfate, a foaming agent, is made from palm oil, and is a key ingredient in many hygiene and cleaning products. In 2015, the Singapore Alliance on Sustainable Palm Oil was formed in reaction to public concerns about the palm oil industry contributing to the regional haze problem. (Wallace Woon/EPA)
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Deforested land after forest fires were used to clear the forest for palm oil plantations, in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. (Bagus Indahono/EPA)
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Shoppers in a supermarket with some products containing palm oil in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Palm oil is an ingredient in an estimated 50 percent of supermarket products. Some consumer groups are pressing end users to buy only products containing substitutes or sustainably sourced palm oil, warning species and pristine habitats are on the brink of being lost forever to humankind. (Dedi Sinuhaji/EPA)
25
Sliced palm oil fruits in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, Indonesia. (Dedi Sinuhaji/EPA)
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A Sumatran Orangutan stands in a cage at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP), at the Jantho Reintroduction and Quarantine Station in Jantho, Aceh Besar, Indonesia. (Hotli Sumanjuntak/EPA)
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