Sri Lanka has imposed a ban on palm oil imports and ordered oil palm plantations in the country to be replaced with rubber trees and other crops over the next decade, citing adverse environmental and social impacts. The decision is based on recommendations from a 2018 report by a panel of environmental experts, who linked oil palm plantations to soil erosion and the drying up of water sources. Unlike in other countries where the crop is grown, oil palms aren’t a driver of deforestation in Sri Lanka; instead, they’ve replaced rubber plantations, which host a higher level of biodiversity and provide more jobs for locals. Another concern is that oil palm is becoming an invasive species, occurring in the wild in a forest reserve, with as-yet-unknown impacts on native flora and fauna. COLOMBO — Environmentalists have welcomed the Sri Lankan government’s surprise decision to ban palm oil imports into the country and raze existing plantations, but others say the science justifying the move is unfounded. The government made the announcement in an April 5 gazette , citing recommendations from an expert panel formed by the Central Environmental Authority (CEA). The panel had identified soil erosion and drying of springs […]

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