Auckland April 30 2008 –
NZ dairy sector
Greenpeace is accusing the dairy sector of environmental irresponsibility after the Green Party revealed the sector is contributing to tropical rainforest destruction by importing huge quantities of palm kernel for cattle feed.
"Rainforest destruction for the palm plantation industry is driving orangutans to the brink of extinction and destroying massive carbon reserves, thus contributing heavily to climate change," said Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Susannah Bailey.
"And this is just the latest blight on the dairy sector's reputation.
"New Zealand's agricultural sector accounts for almost half of all New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions, and these emissions are rapidly increasing. The entire increase in agricultural emissions is from the expansion and intensification of the dairy sector.
"Now we find that industrial dairying is also contributing to tropical rainforest destruction offshore. New Zealand doesn't need this level of environmental irresponsibility from one of its flagship and supposedly 'clean, green' industries."
This morning the Green Party revealed that palm kernel imported as supplementary feed has soared from 408 tonnes in 1999 to 455,000 tonnes in 2007. In just the first three months of this year the New Zealand dairy sector has imported 185,000 tonnes of palm kernel meal and a recent Rural News article said some traders estimated 700,000 tonnes would be brought into New Zealand this year.
The volume of palm kernels purchased between 2000 to 2007 would require up to 900,000 hectares of deforestation to produce.
Greenpeace is currently taking action to highlight the rainforest destruction caused by the palm oil industry in Indonesia. Last weekend, it launched a campaign targeting Unilever's Dove brand because of its use of this palm oil, with direct actions throughout Europe. (1)
Greenpeace is calling on the New Zealand dairy sector to take immediate action to end the import of palm kernels for supplementary feed, saying the practice is extremely damaging to New Zealand's clean green reputation.
"At a time when the New Zealand Government has been talking in climate change negotiations about the need to tackle tropical deforestation, New Zealand's own dairy sector is encouraging it," said Ms Bailey.
Meanwhile, back home, the environmental damage caused by industrial dairying continues unabated. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry some 455,000 hectares of forestry land in New Zealand is at risk of being deforested and converted into pastoral use. This is nearly seven times the size of Lake Taupo. (2)
"Dairy conversion in New Zealand is at an all time high and stands in stark contrast to Government claims that New Zealand is a world leader on climate change.
"Converting forestry to make way for cows is effectively a 'double whammy' for the climate as it destroys forests and replaces it with dairy farming which is the most greenhouse gas intensive form of land use".
"When you also factor in the overuse and pollution of water and tropical rainforest destruction, it's clear the current pathway of the New Zealand agricultural industry is unsustainable."
(1) http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/unilever-monkey-business210408. See also: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/forests/asia-pacific/dove-palmoil-action
(2) MAF, Area of forest 'at risk' from deforestation, August 2006, http://www.maf.govt.nz/climatechange/forestry/ets/area-at-risk/page-04.htm