When doing the initial research for our synthetic alternative to palm oil components, we quickly came across lots of information regarding the current palm oil industry. It soon became apparent that the economies of countries, for example Indonesia and Malaysia, depend almost entirely upon the current methods of palm oil production. Therefore we compiled a detailed impact analysis report for synthetic palm oil, which can be found by clicking on the button to the right.

Why Palm Oil Is Bad News If You're An Orangutan

As previously mentioned, the rate of deforestation is having devastating effects on the population of wild Sumatran orangutans, amongst other animals. Using the program Vortex[1] we modelled various scenarios of the fate of the orangutan, both with and without our project being implemented. The full model can be found here
Figure 1

  • Shows the current estimated timeframe for the extinction of the Sumatran orangutan due to the extent of deforestation occurring to make room for oil palm plantations

  • As it stands, orangutans would die out within the next 45 years

Figure 2
  • If our project reaches optimisation within the next 40 years, and so synthetic palm oil makes further deforestation redundant, around 650 orangutans are expected to survive

  • These 650 animals surprisingly carry the population through at least another 100 years

  • Population size does not appear to grow, and unforeseen events such as landslides could still wipe out the remainder of the population

Figure 3 and Figure 4
  • These show population sizes should our project reach optimisation after 30 years, rather than 40

  • The maximum number of orangutans left after 30 years would be around 2520, while the minimum is around 1664

  • Even at the worse case scenario, if our project is implemented within 30 years then the orangutan population could remain at a healthy level

Once the land was safe from further deforestation, steps could even be taken to reintegrate into the wild the thousands of orangutans currently in sanctuaries around the world. The above models imply that, with the implementation of our project and thus elimination of further deforestation on account of the palm oil industry, the Sumatran orangutan may well have a bright future.

[1] Lacy, R.C. 2000. Structure of the VORTEX simulation model for population viability analysis. Ecological Bulletins 48:191-203