Main image for Measuring and Monitoring Biodiversity in the Oil Palm Landscape

Complexity at the local scale in oil palm plantations depends on plantation management, which can control, for example, the abundance and diversity of epiphytes and understory layers.

The ecosystem service value of habitat complexity and biodiversity in the oil palm landscape: establishing its importance and implementation, from smallholdings to large plantations

The expansion and intensification of agriculture is a major current threat to global biodiversity. Agricultural landscapes are now one of the dominant ecosystems on earth, and it is therefore vital that we understand how to manage them so as to conserve both biodiversity itself and the vital ecosystem services that are sustained by biodiversity. Oil palm cultivation provides the most urgent example of the potentially negative impacts of agriculture. Oil palm provides edible oil, and increasingly biofuel, for millions of people and yet it is grown in precisely those areas where much of the world’s remaining biodiversity is located.

The aim of this research is to show how the retention of a complex landscape within agricultural systems can benefit the delivery of ecosystem services. The initial objectives are to quantify the effects of local habitat complexity on animal biodiversity; demonstrate experimentally that increasing biodiversity influences the effectiveness of the biological control of herbivorous insect pests of oil palm, specifically the reduction in pest outbreaks, and consequently to increase yields of established oil palm plantations. Through integrating biodiversity and ecosystem process studies with crop production and profitability we propose to develop economic models for land-use management which will be applicable to conservation practices and the sustainable development of the oil palm industry.


For further details on current reserach contact Dr Jake Snaddon

Some papers of interest

Turner, E.C., Snaddon, J.L. Ewers, R.M. et al. (2011) The Impact of Oil Palm Expansion on Environmental Change: Putting Conservation Research in Context, Environmental Impact of Biofuels, Marco Aurélio dos Santos Bernardes (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-307-479-5, InTech

Foster, W.A., Snaddon, J.L., Turner, E.C., et al. Establishing the evidence base for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem function in the oil palm landscapes of South East Asia. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2011), November 27, 2011 366:3277-3291;doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0041