Palm oil: Smallholder expansion into peatlands on the rise

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The popular narrative about palm oil in Borneo is a David-and-Goliath story. Deforestation and peatland conversion is largely driven by big business growing oil palm in industrial plantations and exporting to overseas markets, the story goes – while smallholders generally convert tiny patches of existing cropland and produce comparatively few negative environmental impacts. Media articles and activist campaigns reinforce these messages – and at the same time, oil palm research disproportionately focuses on industrial plantations, says CIFOR Senior Scientist George Schoneveld.

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