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The Demise of the Forest People

Malaysian Palm Oil and the Threats Facing the Orangutan



Co Authors:

Katherine A. Kurth
Center for Conservation Medicine
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Katherine.kurth@tufts.edu

Tomika M. Haller
Center for Conservation Medicine
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
tomikamarie@gmail.com

Annalisa L. Sharkey
Center for Conservation Medicine
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
annalisa.sharkey@gmail.com

Abstract:

In this case study, the complexity of the Malaysian palm oil industry is examined through the perspective of various stakeholders, namely, villagers, corporations, orangutans, smallholders, conservationists, and an average consumer. Students learn about the plight of the orangutan and the environmental impacts of the palm oil industry but also understand the influence of global markets and the effect of their own purchases. Students are challenged to make ethical decisions, propose policy recommendations, and examine their own contributions to the demand for palm oil. The aim of the case is to provide students with tools to personally champion change. The case is appropriate for undergraduate students in wildlife, ecology, biology, or related classes but can also be tailored for advanced high school science courses.

Objectives:
  • Identify the stakeholders involved in and affected by the palm oil industry.
  • Compare and contrast the viewpoints and drivers of each stakeholder.
  • Interpret the environmental effects of the palm oil industry.
  • Analyze personal contributions to the demand for palm oil.
  • Devise a plan for how to personally help conservation efforts and reduce palm oil usage.
  • Examine current environmental mitigation techniques and policies.
Keywords: Orangutan; palm oil; Malaysia; stakeholder analysis; wildlife conservation; slash and burn farming;
Topical Area: Ethics, Policy issues, Social justice issues
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF, Word, Excel
Type/Method: Dilemma/Decision, Discussion
Language: English
Subject Headings: Agriculture   Ecology   Economics   Environmental Science   Interdisciplinary Sciences   Natural Resource Management   Wildlife Management  
Date Posted: 5/7/2018
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes


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Answer Key


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Supplemental Materials


The following files are used with this case study.

  Timeline of Palm Oil Development and Production (Excel)
  Are You Funding Deforestation? (Word)

Videos

The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  Peatlands in Indonesia, Beyond the Burning Issue
This video outlines the issues involved with slash and burn deforestation of the Malay Archipelago. Of particular value is the animation (from 3:35–5:45 min) explaining the effects of development on storage and release of carbon in peat forests. Running time: 14:53 min. Produced by The National Council for Climate Change (Indonesia), 2014.




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