CHESTER aims to lead the world in a campaign to save rainforest animals.

It is bidding to become the world’s first ‘Sustainable Palm Oil City’ as part of a conservation strategy by Chester Zoo to protect South East Asian rainforests.

Orangutans are among the many species being pushed to the brink of extinction by oil palm plantations, which are wiping out huge areas of rainforest.

There is intense demand for the oil, which features in thousands of household products in the UK from food to cleaning materials and cosmetics.

Conservationists are battling to promote sustainable palm oil production to protect the rainforests and the wide range of species that live there.

Last month, an alliance of non-government organisations (NGOs) and industry associations (including the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) in the UK signed the Amsterdam Commitment to support 100 per cent sustainable palm oil in Europe by 2020.

Now, the city of Chester, led by Chester Zoo, is leading the efforts to achieve this as it bids to become the world’s first ‘Sustainable Palm Oil City’.

Chester-based restaurant Chez Jules is the first to commit to the project and has already adopted a palm oil policy and audited its supply chain.

The restaurant, in collaboration with experts at Chester Zoo, will host an event today to help other local businesses and restaurants join the fight.

Conservationists are hoping that a range of businesses in the city will join the initiative – from restaurants, cafes, hotels and fast food outlets to workplaces that offer staff catering services; schools and education providers; council and hospitals food outlets; other visitor attractions; manufacturers and retailers.

Zoo field conservation manager Cat Barton said: “Animals such as the magnificent orangutan are under threat and on the brink of being lost forever – as unsustainable oil palm plantations are wiping out rainforests to produce to produce convenience food and household items.

“Right now, the city of Chester and our partners are taking a huge step forward towards increasing the demand for sustainable palm oil. We couldn’t be prouder.

“Thank you to Chez Jules restaurant for becoming the first in the UK to commit to the project; they have really helped us kick start this process and we welcome the interest from dozens of other businesses.”