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Sri Lanka Bans Palm Oil, Orders Plantations to Uproot Trees

Sri Lanka has banned all palm oil imports, and the country’s president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has ordered plantations to uproot their trees under a phased plan that would see a 10 percent reduction in trees each year.

Once cleared, these fields are to be replaced with rubber or other more environmentally and sustainable crops, according to a national statement released on April 5.

Sri Lanka currently has approximately 11,000 hectares (27,182 acres) of oil palm plantations, or just over 1 percent of its total acreage planted with tea, rubber, and coconut.

Sri Lanka joins other countries that have been taking steps to distance themselves from palm oil, which is cited as being a major cause of deforestation and ecological degradation. The U.S. has halted imports from some of Malaysia’s top producers citing forced labor, and the EU is planning to phase out palm oil-based biofuels by classifying it as unsustainable.

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