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Myanmar risks losing forests to oil palm, but there’s time to pivot

Indonesia and Malaysia have long occupied the spotlight for oil palm plantations and their adverse consequences, including deforestation, habitat loss, climate change, and struggles with indigenous and local people. But other Southeast Asian countries are fast joining the two oil palm giants, with Myanmar following their development blueprint by allocating forestland for new plantations: A recent study published in Scientific Reports finds that nearly 60 percent of concessions for oil palm plantations in southern Myanmar consist of forests or non-rubber tree crops.

The Myanmar government has to date handed out more than 400,000 hectares (nearly a million acres) of oil palm concessions to 44 companies, some of it overlapping with proposed national parks.

But almost 60 percent of the concessions have not been developed, and remain either forested or occupied by non-rubber tree crops, a new study finds.

Read more here.