The island of Borneo is credited for producing much of the world’s palm oil. But few people know that Borneo is actually the territory of three different countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. And there are vast differences in how each country manages its agriculture. 

In this opinion piece published by, a healthy living and wellness publication, conservationist and wildlife veterinarian Nathan Sen, DVM describes what conditions are really like in Borneo, where he works tirelessly to improve conditions for the native species of the rainforest. 

“Forest destruction is a rallying cry for the anti-palm movement,” he acknowledges. But he sees a shift towards peaceful coexistence. “Palm oil can be produced more efficiently than other vegetable oils such as soy or rapeseed (canola). It can also be produced responsibly. By national law here in Malaysia, for example, all palm oil must be produced sustainably. There is also a strict ban on forest burning and other initiatives to change palm oil production’s impact on our planet.”

Sen describes the tangible benefits of the numerous sustainability and wildlife conservation programs supported by Malaysia and by the Malaysian palm oil industry. Wildlife reserve areas have been created. The orangutan population is stable. Improvements in palm oil extraction processes have increased output decreasing the need for more land. 

He writes: “If palm oil were to be banned, it would need to be replaced by less land-efficient crops (but there is none). And the sustainability efforts undertaken in Malaysia have shown, palm oil production can be accomplished while protecting wildlife and forests.”

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