Palming off the Earth

Posted on May 2, 2016

Contributed by Wanda Wang. She  is currently in the NYC Data Science Academy 12 week full time Data Science Bootcamp program taking place between April 11th to July 1st, 2016. This post is based on her first class project - R visualization (due on the 2nd week of the program).


Rainforest deforestation is accelerating at an alarming rate around the world as a result of Palm oil production. In order to satisfy growing global demand for Palm oil, an ingredient commonly found in cosmetics to processed consumer foods - clearing the way for lucrative oil plantations by forest fires is negatively impacting our environment. Environmental and social concerns include the loss of rainforest habitat for endangered species, harmful carbon dioxide emissions, coupled with the displacement of local indigenous communities.

The UN Food and Agriculture organization provides information on global Palm oil production and area harvested. The Global Forest Watch also has Palm oil Mill location data and fire alert data available for our review.

Exploratory Questions

What countries are the top producers of Palm oil?

Where are the palm oil mills located? Where are the forest-fire hotspots?

Industry Overview

To navigate to where Palm Oil production is at its highest volume, we first approach the UN Food and Agriculture dataset:

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 7.45.27 PM

The top five producers in the world include Indonesia and Malaysia. Indonesia accounts for over 55% or worldwide production. Malaysia accounts for around 37%. The combined 92% allocation in this region should be noted.

Industry Map

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 7.50.56 PM

As a visual confirmation on the map - looking at SouthEast Asia vs Africa or South America, there are more acres harvested within Indonesia.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 7.51.08 PM


The rise in Area Harvested over time is alarming over time. The drastic percent change from 2000 to 2014 rose from a value of 2,014,000 to 7,407,090 hectares impacted or 2.7 times.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 7.49.53 PM

Mill Distribution & Forest Fires (Indonesia)

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 7.56.43 PM

  • Orange dots represent mill locations (Illegal mills are not captured)
  • Circle markers represent clusters of fire reports (As of Jan 01, 2015)


There is a strong presence of fire hotspots within the last year where the majority of Mills are located. Indonesia possesses the most Palm Oil Mills as currently reported in available data.

Future questions: Are there any geographic overlaps with existing nature reservations- what is the tree cover loss over time in those areas? How much has the Air Quality Index been impacted? Is there a trend between species extinction and habitat location in Palm Oil producing nations?

About Author

Wanda Wang

Wanda is excited about combining data science with compelling narratives to uncover new enterprise opportunities. With 5+ years of experience in the Investment Management field, including at both Citigroup and JPMorgan - Wanda thrives in demanding, client-driven environments...
View all posts by Wanda Wang >

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

No comments found.

View Posts by Categories

Our Recent Popular Posts

View Posts by Tags

#python #trainwithnycdsa 2019 2020 Revenue 3-points agriculture air quality airbnb airline alcohol Alex Baransky algorithm alumni Alumni Interview Alumni Reviews Alumni Spotlight alumni story Alumnus ames dataset ames housing dataset apartment rent API Application artist aws bank loans beautiful soup Best Bootcamp Best Data Science 2019 Best Data Science Bootcamp Best Data Science Bootcamp 2020 Best Ranked Big Data Book Launch Book-Signing bootcamp Bootcamp Alumni Bootcamp Prep boston safety Bundles cake recipe California Cancer Research capstone car price Career Career Day citibike classic cars classpass clustering Coding Course Demo Course Report covid 19 credit credit card crime frequency crops D3.js data data analysis Data Analyst data analytics data for tripadvisor reviews data science Data Science Academy Data Science Bootcamp Data science jobs Data Science Reviews Data Scientist Data Scientist Jobs data visualization database Deep Learning Demo Day Discount disney dplyr drug data e-commerce economy employee employee burnout employer networking environment feature engineering Finance Financial Data Science fitness studio Flask flight delay gbm Get Hired ggplot2 googleVis H20 Hadoop hallmark holiday movie happiness healthcare frauds higgs boson Hiring hiring partner events Hiring Partners hotels housing housing data housing predictions housing price hy-vee Income Industry Experts Injuries Instructor Blog Instructor Interview insurance italki Job Job Placement Jobs Jon Krohn JP Morgan Chase Kaggle Kickstarter las vegas airport lasso regression Lead Data Scienctist Lead Data Scientist leaflet league linear regression Logistic Regression machine learning Maps market matplotlib Medical Research Meet the team meetup methal health miami beach movie music Napoli NBA netflix Networking neural network Neural networks New Courses NHL nlp NYC NYC Data Science nyc data science academy NYC Open Data nyc property NYCDSA NYCDSA Alumni Online Online Bootcamp Online Training Open Data painter pandas Part-time performance phoenix pollutants Portfolio Development precision measurement prediction Prework Programming public safety PwC python Python Data Analysis python machine learning python scrapy python web scraping python webscraping Python Workshop R R Data Analysis R language R Programming R Shiny r studio R Visualization R Workshop R-bloggers random forest Ranking recommendation recommendation system regression Remote remote data science bootcamp Scrapy scrapy visualization seaborn seafood type Selenium sentiment analysis sentiment classification Shiny Shiny Dashboard Spark Special Special Summer Sports statistics streaming Student Interview Student Showcase SVM Switchup Tableau teachers team team performance TensorFlow Testimonial tf-idf Top Data Science Bootcamp Top manufacturing companies Transfers tweets twitter videos visualization wallstreet wallstreetbets web scraping Weekend Course What to expect whiskey whiskeyadvocate wildfire word cloud word2vec XGBoost yelp youtube trending ZORI