An assessment of high carbon stock and high conservation value approaches to sustainable oil palm cultivation in Gabon

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2017-01-01

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© 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd. Industrial-scale oil palm cultivation is rapidly expanding in Gabon, where it has the potential to drive economic growth, but also threatens forest, biodiversity and carbon resources. The Gabonese government is promoting an ambitious agricultural expansion strategy, while simultaneously committing to minimize negative environmental impacts of oil palm agriculture. This study estimates the extent and location of suitable land for oil palm cultivation in Gabon, based on an analysis of recent trends in plantation permitting. We use the resulting suitability map to evaluate two proposed approaches to minimizing negative environmental impacts: a High Carbon Stock (HCS) approach, which emphasizes forest protection and climate change mitigation, and a High Conservation Value (HCV) approach, which focuses on safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems. We quantify the forest area, carbon stock, and biodiversity resources protected under each approach, using newly developed maps of priority species distributions and forest biomass for Gabon. We find 2.7-3.9 Mha of suitable or moderately suitable land that avoid HCS areas, 4.4 million hectares (Mha) that avoid HCV areas, and 1.2-1.7 Mha that avoid both. This suggests that Gabon's oil palm production target could likely be met without compromising important ecosystem services, if appropriate safeguards are put in place. Our analysis improves understanding of suitability for oil palm in Gabon, determines how conservation strategies align with national targets for oil palm production, and informs national land use planning.

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10.1088/1748-9326/aa5437

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Austin, KG, ME Lee, C Clark, BR Forester, DL Urban, L White, PS Kasibhatla, JR Poulsen, et al. (2017). An assessment of high carbon stock and high conservation value approaches to sustainable oil palm cultivation in Gabon. Environmental Research Letters, 12(1). 10.1088/1748-9326/aa5437 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15859.

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Scholars@Duke

Urban

Dean L. Urban

Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences and Policy

My interest in landscape ecology focuses on the agents and implications of pattern in forested landscapes. Increasingly, my research is in what has been termed "theoretical applied ecology," developing new analytic approaches to applications of immediate practical concern such as conservation planning. A hallmark of my Lab is the integration of field studies, spatial analysis, and simulation modeling in extrapolating our fine-scale empirical understanding of environmental issues to the larger space and time scales of management and policy.

Kasibhatla

Prasad S. Kasibhatla

Professor in the Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy

The overarching theme of my research is to develop a fundamental and quantitative understanding of the factors that determine the chemical composition of the atmosphere. I am particularly interested in delineating natural and anthropogenic impacts on the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and in exploring the potential for these impacts to affect natural ecosystems. My research involves the use of numerical models in conjunction with remote and insitu measurements of atmospheric composition.


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