One of my roles as MP for Chester is to give a national platform to people and groups doing great things. To highlight on the national stage the stars of our city.

But when it is Chester Zoo that is leading the way, there isn’t much I can add, such is the worldwide reputation of this great British institution.

And the Zoo is indeed leading the way on a campaign of global significance.

Chester Zoo isn’t just a tourist attraction, although that helps pay the bills. It is a world renowned scientific institution. All the senior animal curators are expected and supported to continue scientific research during their time there. So, Dr Mark Pilgim, the Zoo’s Director, is a world expert in a species of South American parrot.

But it is the Zoo’s role in a campaign based around South East Asia that is currently grabbing the attention.

Huge swathes of rain forests in Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo and the like are being cut down, and replaced with miles and miles of palm plantations. Indeed, the trees aren’t even native to Asia, they come from West Africa. But palm oil is a major business. It is used in the preparation of foodstuffs and consumer goods across the world, and demand is growing.

Sadly, that means the forests are shrinking. The habitats for many of the world’s endangered animals are disappearing. Animals such as orangutans.

The sustainable palm oil campaign seeks to persuade plantation owners not to chop down all the forests. To leave interlinked sections for animals to pass through, and to maintain the habitats separate from human interaction.

Our zoo is leading that campaign. And now they want to bring the campaign to Chester, to make the city the world’s first sustainable palm oil city.

The zoo is asking all the restaurants and shops here to work their suppliers, by asking them to ensure they only supply palm oil products from certified sustainable plantations. We hope that by passing the message up the supply chain, and by public pressure here in Chester, we can make a difference across the world. There will be support for businesses who join the challenge and to express an interest in getting involved, you can sign up here:

Our world is getting smaller, and what happens in Chester can have consequences on the other side of the globe. But for once these are good consequences. The Zoo’s campaign is worth supporting. Let’s all help Chester lead the world, again.

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