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The Demise of the Forest People

Malaysian Palm Oil and the Threats Facing the Orangutan


Author(s)

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 Areas

Ethics, Policy issues, Social justice issues

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF, Word, Excel

Type / Methods

Dilemma/Decision, Discussion

Language

English

Subject Headings

Agriculture  |   Ecology  |   Economics  |   Environmental Science  |   Interdisciplinary Sciences  |   Natural Resource Management  |   Wildlife Management  |  


Date Posted

5/7/2018

Teaching Notes

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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Supplemental Materials

The following files are used with this case study.


  palm_oil_sup.xlsx

  palm_oil_sup_products.docx

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

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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