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Damning report investigates claims of illegal deforestation — here are the major corporations involved

"Any firms involved in unlawful forest clearance [should be] held accountable for those crimes."

Photo Credit: iStock

Photo Credit: iStock

The Environmental Investigation Agency is putting major companies, including Nestle, Colgate, and Kellogg's, under the spotlight after it discovered the corporations were doing business with a palm oil supplier that has been contributing to deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon. 

What happened?

As detailed by Reuters, the investigative report released on Feb. 7 found that Ocho Sur, a Peru-based supplier backed by North American investors, and nine other companies had deforested more than 50 square miles of rainforest in the Ucayali region.  

According to the EIA, the infractions include "acquiring illegally titled land, deforesting without permits, failing to produce the required environmental documentation, not paying fines, and violating the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities." 

It also says the Peruvian government has failed to curtail such actions at an operational level.

For its part, Ocho Sur has denied the allegations, telling Reuters that it has had all the required permits since 2016, when it obtained the land. 

Why is this concerning?

The Ucayali region is known for its incredible biodiversity, an essential factor in keeping our ecosystems running smoothly.

Yadvinder Malhi, a University of Oxford ecologist, told Reuters that around 300 species of trees can live on just one small plot of land in the Ucayali.

"This is probably the most successful engine of evolution on Planet Earth," Malhi said. 

Additionally, the Amazon rainforest soaks up a considerable amount of carbon pollution that would otherwise be heating up our planet — which is already experiencing an accelerated rise of temperatures.

While dirty energy, such as coal, oil, and gas, accounts for the bulk of the heat-trapping gases generated by humans, deforestation is interconnected with the issue. 

Multiple studies have shown that a system collapse affecting the rainforest's ability to regulate temperatures could be around the corner if deforestation continues. This could lead to the extinction of numerous animal and plant species, including those that provide medicinal benefits to humans.  

What is being done about this?

Colgate, Nestle, and Kellogg's all suggested to Reuters that they have hopes of rectifying the situation

Colgate-Palmolive and Kellanova, which makes Kellogg's products, said they would be looking further into the matter after the allegations were made known to them, and Nestle indicated it is company policy to do the same, though it refused to comment on Ocho Sur. 

The EIA also noted in a press release that multiple civil organizations in Peru protested a law that may have cleared the way for further deforestation, and the case is expected to make its way to court.

"This law undermines the fight against impunity by rewarding bad actors for illegal deforestation and risks encouraging more destruction. It should be repealed and any firms involved in unlawful forest clearance held accountable for those crimes," Julia Urrunaga, EIA's Peru Director, said in a statement for the organization. 

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