Palm oil and biodiversity…can they go hand in hand?

20 October 2011

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© iStock/STILLFX

When natural forest is converted to oil palm plantations, the effects on biodiversity are dramatic. The number and variety of animals and plants decrease dramatically. However, as the demand for palm oil continues to increase (from food, oleochemical products (cosmetics, soap etc), and bio fuel manufacture) researchers are working with palm oil producers to provide reliable data to help them maintain the best possible levels of biodiversity, while keeping palm oil yields as high as possible.

James Martin Fellow Jake Snaddon from the Biodiversity Institute has been working on various projects in Sabah, South East Asia to help provide reliable and useful data. His recently published paper “Establishing the evidence base for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem function in the oil palm landscapes of South East Asia” suggests that both landscape and local complexity can have positive impacts on biodiversity in the oil palm habitat.