By Catherine Barton, Field Conservation Manager at Chester Zoo
Hello Co-op colleagues. My name is Catherine, and I work as the Field Conservation Manager at Chester Zoo. Over the last decade I’ve worked with our conservation partners in South East Asia and I’m the zoo’s lead on Sustainable Palm Oil.
Last year, Co-op partnered with us at Chester Zoo and the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Hutan on a conservation project in Sabah, Borneo. A team of conservation experts, working alongside local communities planted over 30,000 trees (of which 5,000 were funded by Co-op) to combat the effects of deforestation in an area previously used for the production of palm oil. The trees consisted of 29 different species of native tree to create a new wildlife corridor, enabling hundreds of species to connect across the jungle.
Today on World Environment Day, we’ve got an exciting update on our efforts. Since the trees were planted, the team working in Borneo have been monitoring the wildlife recovery so far. The results have shown that 80% of the seedlings have survived one year on, with some trees reaching over 3 metres in height already.
The team also installed camera traps in the area to monitor wildlife returning to the area (as you can see from the pictures below). We’ve been able to capture some exciting pictures of an orangutan and a leopard cat using the corridor already. It’s an incredible achievement and we’re excited to see the forest flourish with more fauna and flora in the future.
This important restorative work is part of the Co-op’s Future of Food ambition, working hard to make sure the ingredients used in own brand products are sourced responsibly, sustainably and as fairly as possible. From fishing to livestock, and forest to field, Co-op aims to support people and communities around the world and help play their part in protecting the planet.
Understanding our impact
Human activity has taken a devastating toll over the years. Deforestation and agricultural development has degraded and fragmented the forest, impacting the wildlife that live and survive in the wilderness.
The issue surrounding palm oil still exists today, but as consumers we need to shop consciously and try to understand how our products are produced. Sourced unsustainably, overharvesting can lead to deforestation, harm to wildlife and climate change.
All of the palm oil used in Co-op products is certified by the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) schemes, and has been since 2005. As a member of RSPO, Co-op is among charities, palm oil producers, processors, consumer goods manufacturers, other retailers, banks and investors who work together to make positive changes.
Approaches to conservation are shifting, and humans and wildlife are starting to coexist side by side in our modern world. There’s still a long way to go, but our partnership and the conservation work we’ve achieved together so far is just one small step in the right direction.