Dutch trade is causing loss of biodiversity in tropical countries

Gepubliceerd op
22 maart 2011

The Netherlands is a large importer of soya, palm oil and tropical timber products.

These imports require large area of land in the exporting countries. The imports of soya from Brazil, palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia and timber from Indonesia require the same production area as the total agricultural land area of the Netherlands.
timber trade

In these countries, vast areas of forests are converted into soya fields and oil palm plantations, leading to direct losses of biodiversity at the production sites and fragmentation of the remaining forest and nature areas. These are the major findings of researchers of LEI and Alterra, both part of Wageningen UR, in their report ‘Dutch Trade and Biodiversity’.

The oil palm, soya and timber industry provides employment for millions of people in the exporting countries. The development of large-scale operations, however, has negative effects for the local communities, such as loss of customary land titles and their traditional way of living and livelihood.

The Netherlands government and industry could decrease the ecological and socio-economic impact of the Dutch imports by promoting the following policies in the exporting countries:

  • sustainable intensification of production, i.e. higher yields per hectare, so that less land is required;
  • expansion of production in degraded areas, so that more valuable nature areas can be saved;
  • integrated land use planning, taking into account the possibilities for maintaining interconnected high nature value areas.