The scale of global deforestation in 1980 had already reached 701 million hectares (Matthew, 1983). Then in the 1990-2008 periods the total global deforestation was 239 million hectares (European Commission, 2013).
The cause of the 1990-2008 global deforestation (Table) was cattle ranch expansion (24.3 percent) especially in South America, fires (17.2 percent), soybean farm expansion (5.6 percent), the expansion of corn farms and sugarcane plantations (3.2 percent), while global oil palm expansion was only 2.3 percent.
Table : Cause of global deforestation 1990-2008
|Cattle ranches (South America)||58||24.3|
|Soybean farm expansion ( South America)||13.4||5.6|
|Corn expansion (South America)||7.5||3.1|
|Oil palm expansion||5.5||2.3|
|Logging/ wood production||4.5||1.9|
|Rice field expansion||4.3||1.8|
|Other agricultural use||35.5||14.9|
Source: European Commission, 2013
Based on this data, oil palm plantations are not the main cause of global deforestation. Development of grazing areas, sugarcane plantations, soybean, rapeseed and sunflower farms are the main cause of global deforestation