Improbable Monument


Intro: The environment is extremely important and impossible to survive without. So why is it not a top priority to everyone? Not only that, we are destroying it constantly. With more awareness to people throughout the world, we may be able to stop the things that are destroying our home. One of the leading causes of deforestation and the release of carbon monoxide comes from plantations of palm oil trees. Because of this, I have decided to make a monument that clearly shows people the destruction that is happening around them.

Background: The history of palm oil production, while not long, is very broad. It began in Malaysia in the 20th century. Malaysia depended heavily on the contribution that palm oil production had on the economy; in the 1960’s, this production provided jobs to over half a million people in Malaysia. What seemed at the time to be another plus was the reduction of dependence on fossil fuels. In fact, it was thought to be a cleaner, more sustainable form of energy because it comes from a plant. It was also believed that biodiesel was better for the environment– this remains untrue if it is produced in the way that it is with palm oil.

In preparation for the planting palm trees, the land must be burned. This includes burning parts of the land that store great amounts of water and carbon that are crucial in supplying clean water and lessening the severity of climate change. Not only that, but burning the land also caused carbon monoxide emissions – that’s not good. Of course, forests are also home to vast amount of species and the destruction of these forests to make way for palm oil plantations threatens already endangered animals.

Indonesia is another place where palm oil plantations are taking over forests. It is in fact the number one cause of deforestation for Indonesia. A few years ago, the president of Indonesia ordered a moratorium on the destruction of forests after much of the land was leveled by big companies. Unfortunately, illegal plantations took over and production is out of the president’s control.

Description Originally, I wanted to go with a monument that was structural but I want my monument to bring people together to learn about this terrible thing that is happening, and a structural monument would not have done that in this case. Instead I decided that my monument would not be man-made because humans are the reason deforestation is happening.  Why not give back to the land that we are stealing so much from? This monument will be in the form of a mini plantation that would be started by people of the community. The monument would be several rows of palm trees and it would take up no more than a half-acre of land. This is a way to symbolize the negative impacts that palm oil plantations have. The monument would be placed in the middle of a deforested area. The reason being so that people are forced to see the destruction all around them.

It is improbable because there is no way to sustain life on land that has been burned in preparation for the plantations or after the plantations are destroyed. Unfortunately, a soil is not readily available for this type of activity. The soil would have to have elements that the carbon rich soil had. It must be able to withstand the damage that was done by burning peat lands. The soil would have to replenish the lost nutrients as well as help with absorption of water and prevent massive runoff in this tropical climate.

Benefits This monument is different in that there is not set location for it. It is meant to inspire people to learn more about what is happening to the environment. It also challenges them to take a stance. Once the small trees grow large, they can be seen from high in the air or from the ground. People will be able to see and interact with it from close up or far away. This is another way to symbolize that the effects of deforestation are always present whether we can see them directly or not.

Budget There is no defined budget as this soil is not yet produced which would be an expense as well as the land. Land would have to be bought from the plantation owner (presumably a large company) the acre of land would not be extremely expensive because after being burned it has little use for anything. When researching land prices it was difficult to come up with an average price for land that could be used for cultivation. There would be little maintenance required as these palm trees are able to grow in this environment. As mentioned, I want this monument to bring the community of locals together to learn more about the long term impacts of deforestation caused by palm oil plantations. Therefore, the new harmless “mini plantation” would be grown planted by volunteers.



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