I tend to be an Anthropocene optimist - believing we can find ways out of the current pathways of destruction of the biosphere and being able to balance the needs for development and conservation. But it is hard not to feel depressed when seeing magnificent forest (even logged forest) being bulldozered into oil palm plantations, to meet the world's demand for oil fats in foods, soaps, cosmetics and biofuel. In the last 20 years such plantations have sprawled across Indonesia and Malaysia, and now they are just beginning to make headway into Africa and Amazonia. Do rainforests really need to be destroyed so utterly for this? Pictues are from new plantation clearance in southern Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University