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Awareness of palm oil conservation issues
Research Project: Visitor and community awareness of palm oil and related conservation issues
The single biggest threat to the survival of orang-utans is the unsustainable production of palm oil - an ingredient found in many packaged supermarket products.
Palm oil is found in about 40% of the products on supermarket shelves. Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is an alternative ingredient that is produced without harming local wildlife and communities. In 2009, Zoos Victoria launched it’s Don’t Palm Us Off campaign and research was done to assess the attitudes and knowledge of visitors and community regarding the conservation issue of unsustainable palm oil.
In 2013, Zoos Victoria launched the Zoopermarket at Melbourne Zoo and online. At the Zoopermarket, visitors can send a clear message via email to grocery manufacturers telling them that when it comes to palm oil, they want 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).
As part of the ongoing Don’t Palm Us Off campaign strategy, we need to ensure we maximise our success in driving community action. This requires repeated assessment of the knowledge of visitors and community regarding the issues.
To re-assess the visitor and community awareness of:
- palm oil and the issues surrounding it
- the link between palm oil and habitat destruction in South-east Asia
- the link between palm oil and orang-utan conservation
- We will use the same questions as in 2009 to assess visitor and community awareness of palm oil and related issues for conservation. This will allow us to track knowledge change over 4-5 years
- We will also include a new assessment of knowledge around Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, which should help inform the campaign messaging as it continues.
This is done through a written survey provided to visitors randomly over a number of days - including both weekdays and weekends.
Surveying will occur three times over 2013 – before the opening of the Zoopermarket installation, briefly after the installation opening and again six months after the opening.
Outcomes so far...
92 visitors were surveyed in March prior to the opening of Zoopermarket:
- Most visitors displayed good knowledge about orang-utans
- 87% of survey respondents correctly identified palm oil as being the product most threatening the survival of orang-utans
- 39% were familiar with CSPO and 43% were avoiding non-CSPO products
- 76% indicated willingness to change future behaviour to help orang-utan conservation
Two further surveys will be conducted in 2013 to see how these factors are changing over time.
Primary researcher: Dr Elissa Pearson
Participating organisations: Zoos Victoria; University of South Australia