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Gewählte Master / Diploma Thesis:

Tabea Adefris (2022): Palm oil in transition: Biodiversity footprint of Austria’s palm oil import and environmental spillover.
Master / Diploma Thesis - Institut für Waldökologie (IFE), BOKU-Universität für Bodenkultur, pp 77. UB BOKU obvsg

Data Source: ZID Abstracts
Demand for palm oil has risen steadily within the last century, making it the leading edible oil crop worldwide. It has a variety of advantages compared to other oil plants, with the primary benefits being low costs and having a higher yield than any other oil crop. Simultaneously, the increase in cultivation area has had devastating effects on the environment and local communities. Deforestation, habitat and biodiversity loss, and the release of greenhouse gases are the main drawbacks of large-scale palm oil plantations. The goal of this thesis is to review Austria’s demand for palm oil and assess the environmental damages occurring in the producing countries. To achieve that, I studied the amount of Austrian palm oil import and its resulting biodiversity footprint (BF) and environmental spillover. This data collection comprises national trade data from the UN Comtrade database and the data tool Trase and was visualised on QGIS, JavaScript and Google Earth Pro. As the biggest exporter of palm oil, Indonesia was picked as a reference country for an analysis of the environmental impacts occurring due to Austria’s consumption patterns. Austria’s total direct palm oil imports constitute to 30,906 tonnes in 2020. The area of Indonesian land used to grow palm for Austrian consumption was evaluated and found to be 2,524 ha while the land occupation of indirect imports in products was about 12250 ha for 2019. The resulting BF of Austrian palm oil consumption was determined for ecoregions, taxa and at national level. It is most severe for plants, followed almost equally by the taxa, mammals, birds, amphibians and lastly, reptiles. More transparency on import data and global value chains is needed to provide reliable pathways towards more sustainability. Certifications for sustainable palm oil and alternative farming methods could drastically reduce the environmental impact of production.

Beurteilende*r: Gratzer Georg

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