A deforested area to give way to a palm oil plantation in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Image: Ten major companies that sell and use palm oil have teamed up on a new radar system to monitor forests across Malaysia and Indonesia more closely and speed up action to stop deforestation, a group leading the initiative said on Friday. The coalition of palm oil producers and buyers will contribute nearly $1.3 million to the project—led by the US-based World Resources Institute (WRI)—which will keep a watch on forests using data from European Space Agency satellites. “The new technology on one side and the fact that we have all of these big actors in the room coming together to think about how we can best use the information … is really what needs to happen,” said Anne Rosenbarger, Southeast Asia commodities manager at WRI in Indonesia. Palm oil, the world’s most widely used edible oil, is found in everything from margarine to biscuits, and soap to soups. But the $60-billion global trade has faced scrutiny in recent years from green activists and consumers, who have blamed its production for forest loss, fires and worker exploitation. The main thing was how we can […]

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