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Chester Zoo Asks People to Fight Deforestation

The large-scale conversion of the world’s tropical forests into plantations growing oil palm has a devastating effect on a vast number of animal and plant species. To save the rainforests and help the species who inhabit them, a new app has been created that allows people shopping to scan barcodes and locate companies dedicated to sourcing palm oil sustainably.

The free mobile app, called PalmOil Scan, was developed by the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA) with help from palm oil experts at Chester Zoo, along with New Zealand’s Auckland Zoo and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in the US. It enables users to discover how manufacturers source the ingredients they put in products and see the score each food producer has for sustainability. Manufacturers are ranked on a scale of ‘excellent’ to ‘zero’ commitment, so shoppers can opt to buy from responsible businesses and vote with their wallets.

Conservationists at Chester Zoo hope the application will help consumers to identify ethical manufacturers and increase demands for products that help wildlife. Sustainable palm oil advocate and Policy Lead for Chester Zoo, Cat Barton, commented

“Facing a biodiversity crisis, now more than ever, it’s crucial that we take a stand against the use of unsustainable palm oil and stop it from contributing to the loss of habitats and species.”

The new app is the latest initiative by the zoo, which has also launched a nationwide campaign designed to transform cities, towns, and villages, across Britain into ‘Sustainable Palm Oil Communities’. It is also working closely with the UK government on a deforestation-free policy for imports.