Millions of acres of tropical forest should be cut down to allow poor countries to expand their economies, according to a leading environmentalist and adviser to the Prince of Wales.
Sir Jonathon Porritt, who advises the Prince on green issues and is a former chairman of the Green party, said that conservationists from rich countries who demanded the preservation of all forests were guilty of “eco-imperialism”.
He suggested that poor countries, such as Liberia, should be allowed to chop down up to half their forests as long as they agreed to the preservation of those containing the greatest volume of carbon.
Saving tropical forests has long been a priority for the prince, who established the Prince’s Rainforest Project in 2007. In 2009, he told the Copenhagen climate change summit: “Forests are being cleared at a terrifying rate. It is critical to find ways to prevent forests being converted to agriculture.”
Sir Jonathon is working for a group of palm oil companies, including Sime Darby, Musim Mas and Asian Agri, which have been accused of rampant deforestation but have now pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from future expansion of plantations.
He is chairman of the palm oil industry-funded High Carbon Stock Study, which is seeking to determine which forests contain the most carbon and should therefore be protected because clearing would result in massive greenhouse gas emissions.
However, he admitted that he would also be helping the companies to identify forests which they could clear to produce more palm oil, a common ingredient in margarines, biscuits, breads, breakfast cereals, ice cream, shampoos, lipstick and detergents.