The Impacts of Oil Palm on Recent Deforestation and Biodiversity Loss.
Repository Usage Stats
Palm oil is the most widely traded vegetable oil globally, with demand projected to increase substantially in the future. Almost all oil palm grows in areas that were once tropical moist forests, some of them quite recently. The conversion to date, and future expansion, threatens biodiversity and increases greenhouse gas emissions. Today, consumer pressure is pushing companies toward deforestation-free sources of palm oil. To guide interventions aimed at reducing tropical deforestation due to oil palm, we analysed recent expansions and modelled likely future ones. We assessed sample areas to find where oil palm plantations have recently replaced forests in 20 countries, using a combination of high-resolution imagery from Google Earth and Landsat. We then compared these trends to countrywide trends in FAO data for oil palm planted area. Finally, we assessed which forests have high agricultural suitability for future oil palm development, which we refer to as vulnerable forests, and identified critical areas for biodiversity that oil palm expansion threatens. Our analysis reveals regional trends in deforestation associated with oil palm agriculture. In Southeast Asia, 45% of sampled oil palm plantations came from areas that were forests in 1989. For South America, the percentage was 31%. By contrast, in Mesoamerica and Africa, we observed only 2% and 7% of oil palm plantations coming from areas that were forest in 1989. The largest areas of vulnerable forest are in Africa and South America. Vulnerable forests in all four regions of production contain globally high concentrations of mammal and bird species at risk of extinction. However, priority areas for biodiversity conservation differ based on taxa and criteria used. Government regulation and voluntary market interventions can help incentivize the expansion of oil palm plantations in ways that protect biodiversity-rich ecosystems.
Conservation of Natural Resources
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1371/journal.pone.0159668
Publication InfoVijay, Varsha; Pimm, Stuart L; Jenkins, Clinton N; & Smith, Sharon J (2016). The Impacts of Oil Palm on Recent Deforestation and Biodiversity Loss. PloS one, 11(7). pp. e0159668. 10.1371/journal.pone.0159668. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23545.
This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.
More InfoShow full item record
Stuart L. Pimm
Doris Duke Distinguished Professor of Conservation Ecology in the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
Stuart Pimm is a world leader in the study of present-day extinctions and what can be done to prevent them. His research covers the reasons why species become extinct, how fast they do so, the global patterns of habitat loss and species extinction and, importantly, the management consequences of this research. Pimm received his BSc degree from Oxford University in 1971 and his Ph.D. from New Mexico State University in 1974. Pimm is the author of over 350 scientific papers and five books. He i
Articles written by Duke faculty are made available through the campus open access policy. For more information see: Duke Open Access Policy
Rights for Collection: Scholarly Articles
Works are deposited here by their authors, and represent their research and opinions, not that of Duke University. Some materials and descriptions may include offensive content. More info