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Our way of managing nature has far-reaching implications - both at home and abroad. Here is an oil palm plantation with pockets of forest near Pembuang in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Photo: Matt Struebig.

Danish production and global biodiversity

Our nature knows no bounds - we act locally, but impact globally

It is not only within Denmark that our use of natural resources and food has an impact on nature and biodiversity. Much of the raw materials for our food are being imported, creating a direct link between Danish consumption and management of nature in the producing countries.

From 1990 to 2005, in Malaysia and Indonesia alone, 1.1 million hectares of tropical forests has disappeared as a direct result of the expansion of domestic production of palm oil exported to the West, including Denmark. Denmark imports 178,000 tonnes of Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil annually, which is used in a wide variety of foods.

Another example is Denmark's imports of soya from Argentina and Brazil. It is mainly used for pig and cattle feed, and the annual imports from these two countries are 1.8 million tonnes, and the last 20 years it has increased by 23,500 tons annually.

The expansion of soy production to meet the growing demand from developing Denmark, has led to huge areas of the Amazon rainforest and open woodland savannah in Argentina have been converted to soybean production. It is estimated that in these two countries alone a total area of ​​920,000 ha has been converted to soybean production – only to cover Denmark's demand.

It is important that knowledge of Denmark's footprint on biodiversity abroad will be shared and addressed in the debate on our own consumption and production. In this way one can achieve a more sustainable food production globally, not just in a Danish context.

In 2012, Finn Danielsen from Nordeco and Mette Marie Nørgaard from MEG Consulting published an article in the book Danish Nature 2020, analyzing the links between Denmark's consumption of palm oil and soya produced in third world countries, and the loss of biodiversity as a result of this production. The article can be read on page 81 of the report “Nature 2020” that is downloaded from

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