South America is undergoing an ecological crisis. Brazilian President Jair Balsonaro has effectively deregulated the logging and agriculture industry, allowing mass swaths of the Amazon rainforest to be cleared out. Known as "the lungs of the world," the Amazon takes a large amount of the carbon dioxide from the air while producing much of the oxygon we need to survive.
In Peru, one of hte largest industries that affect the environment is the palm oil industry. Palm oil trees require a tremendous amount of land to grow, so the rainforests of Peru have been cleared away by farming companies. In an effort to stop the damage being done, the National Wildlife Federation has teamed up with local indigenous groups and with local government leaders to draft regulation that will stop the deforestation by 2021. The Peruvian Palm Oil Producers’ Association (JUNPALMA,) the nation's largest palm oil industrial group, signed this agreement. Peru's Ministry of Agriculture hopes that this positive change for the rainforests of Peru will be a model for change in neighboring nations.
“This commitment is a momentous development for the people of Peru and the global effort to confront climate change,” National Wildlife Federation representative Kiryssa Kasprzyk said in a statement. “It underscores that we can feed the world without hurting biodiversity or clear-cutting tropical forests.”
Peruvian Palm Oil Producers’ Association general manager Gregorio Saenz also discussed the agreement with the media.
“The National Wildlife Federation and its local partner, Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo, have worked with Peruvian palm oil Producers’ Association (JUNPALMA) and the country’s government, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, for two years to get to this point, and we are committed to ensuring this agreement becomes a reality,” he said.
As of now, the major concern is that farmers don't make a last minute land grab before the legislation takes place in 2021, as they could potentially undo the ecological benefits that the the agreement would lead to. The desire to move the laws forward to an earlier start time could alienate members of JUNPALMA, who have been willing to agree to the concessions. Still, this is a fantastic step forward for the environmental future of Peru and hopefull the start of a major legislative movement to protect the rainforest.