Journal of Oil Palm Research Vol. Special Issue  2008 Oct p.  127-142

Eco-friendly approaches to sustainable palm oil production

Author(s): ANDERSON, Jonathan M. *

There have been many innovations in mill technologies, oil palm agronomy and pest management over past decades that are increasingly meeting the certification criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). In addition, because oil palm plantations may be functionally analogous to forests, and remain undisturbed for several decades, they can provide some essential ecosystem services to local/national stakeholders in terms of direct use-values (products, economics) and indirect use-values (carbon sequestration, biodegradation, hydrology); though the economic value of indirect services, such as maintenance of water quality, have not been recognized as national assets. On the other hand, option values (gene pools) and existence values (biodiversity) for oil palm plantations are low and loss of these values is contentious when natural systems are converted. Negative perceptions of oil palm being ‘eco-friendly’ also reflect the extent to which forest and peatland conversion to oil palm have resulted in off-site effects such as carbon mobilization, damage to river systems from sedimentation and loss of biodiversity. It is concluded that the industry could improve its image by adopting mitigation measures, including better landscape design and documentation of the areas under development, and by improving the visibility that some sectors of the industry are making to address these environmental issues.

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Author Information
* School of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4PS, United Kingdom.

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