This section provides links to research projects on sustainable palm oil as well as a range of research papers on the environmental impacts of palm oil production and methods to monitor and protect biodiversity.


Research Projects

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Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is a non-profit, scientific facility that conducts research on the most pressing challenges of forest and landscape management around the world. Using a global, multidisciplinary approach, they aim to improve human well-being, protect the environment, and increase equity, by helping policymakers, practitioners and communities make decisions based on solid science about how they use and manage their forests and landscapes.

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Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Oil palm Research (SEnSOR) programme

The Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Oil palm Research (SEnSOR) programme is an integrated multi-disciplinary research programme designed to fill key knowledge gaps in testing and developing the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria for sustainability in oil palm agriculture. The five year programme will deliver a robust scientific evidence base for RSPO’s Principles and Criteria, strengthening the credibility of RSPO’s approach to sustainability.

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The South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP)

SEARRP works in close collaboration with leading international universities and local partners both to facilitate research by individual scientists and manage a suite of large-scale field experiments (the SAFE Project, Sabah Biodiversity Experiment and a 50 ha CTFS plot) that seek to address the major environmental issues facing the tropics – plantation development, habitat restoration and climate change.

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Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystem (SAFE) Project

The SAFE Project is located in the rainforests of Malaysian Borneo and consists of three interconnected projects. The first of these examines ecological changes along a gradient of forest modification as it is gradually converted into an oil palm plantation. The second relies on experimentally designed forest fragments to investigate how the spatial structure of a landscape can mediate or exacerbate the ecological impacts of logging. The third project investigates how the width of riparian vegetation impacts the quality of water emerging from forests and plantations.

university of nottingham

The University of Nottingham’s Centre of Sustainable Palm Oil Research (CESPOR)

CESPOR is a multi-disciplinary research centre focusing on palm oil industry.  The vision of CESPOR is to be a renowned industrial relevant research centre for sustainable palm oil research, aiming to explore and develop innovative ideas to promote sustainable palm oil research and technologies, establish international and national research collaborations and network, train competent researchers in sustainable palm oil research, share innovative ideas and knowledge to enrich the society and industry and enhance multidisciplinary research across all faculties and campus.

smithsonia tropical research institute

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

The Center for Tropical Forest Science and Forest Global Earth Observatories (CTFS-ForestGEO) are a unified, global network of forest research plots and scientists dedicated to the study of tropical and temperate forest function and diversity. The multi-institutional network comprises over 60 forest research plots across the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, with a strong focus on tropical regions. CTFS-ForestGEO monitors the growth and survival of approximately 6 million trees and 10,000 species that occur in the forest plots. CTFS-ForestGEO also supports initiatives in the forest plots to monitor climate, carbon flux, vertebrates, insects, soil microorganisms, and much more.

Last updated: 07/12/2016

Research papers


A global strategy for road building Laurance, W. F. et al. Sep-14
A qualitative meta-synthesis of the benefits of eco-labeling in developing countriesCarlson, A. and Palmer, C.Mar-16
A reality check for designer biofuel landscapes Struebig, M. J. et al.Jan-10
A review of the ecosystem functions in oil palm plantations, using forests as a reference systemDislich, C. et al.Aug-16
Asymmetric boundary shifts of tropical montane Lepidoptera over four decades of climate warming Chen, C. et al.Jan-11
Better land-use allocation outperforms land sparing and land sharing approaches to conservation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia Lawa, E. A. et al. Jun-15
Biodiversity hotspots for conservation prioritiesMyers, N. et al.Feb-00
Biodiversity of leaf-litter ants in fragmented tropical rainforests of Borneo: the value of publically and privately managed forest fragmentsTawato, N. et alAug-14
Carbon emissions from forest conversion by Kalimantan oil palm plantations Carlson, K. M. et al.Oct-12
Carbon outcomes of major land‐cover transitions in SE Asia: great uncertainties and REDD+ policy implications Ziegler, A. D. et al.Jul-12
Carbon stock of oil palm plantations and tropical forests in Malaysia: A review Kho, L. K. and Jepsen, M. R.Jul-15
Change in carbon stocks arising from land-use conversion to oil palm plantations: A science-for-policy paper for the Oil palm Research-Policy Partnership NetworkLucey, J.May-14
Changes in bird communities following conversion of lowland forest to oil palm and rubber plantations in southern ThailandAratrakorn, S. et al. Mar-06
Co-benefits for biodiversity and carbon in land planning decisions within oil palm landscapes:A science-for-policy paper for the Oil palm Research-Policy Partnership NetworkLucey, J.Sep-15
Community structure and ecology of snakes in fields of oil palm trees (Elaeis guineensis) in the Niger Delta, southern NigeriaAkani, G, C. eta l.Nov-07
Conservation in Oil Palm LandscapesBhagwat, S. A. and Willis, K. J. Feb-09
Conservation Value of Remnant Riparian Forest Corridors of Varying Quality for Amazonian Birds and Mammals Lees, A. C. and Peres, C. A.Aug-07
Deforestation rates in insular Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2010 Miettinen, J. et al. Jul-11
Designer landscapes for sustainable biofuels Koh, L. P. et al.Aug-09
Do riparian reserves support dung beetle biodiversity and ecosystem services in oil palm-dominated tropical landscapes Gray, C. L. et al.Apr-14
Ecosystem Decay of Amazonian Forest Fragments : a 22-Year Investigation Gray, C. L. et al.Jun-02
Elevation increases in moth assemblages over 42 years on a tropical mountainChena, I. et al.Dec-08
Estimation of the impact of oil palm plantation establishment on greenhouse gas balance Germer, J and Sauerborn, J.Feb-07
Evolution of sustainable palm oil policy in Southeast AsiaIvancic, H. and Koh, L. P.Jun-16
Forest fragmentation and its correlation to human land use change in the state of Selangor, peninsular MalaysiaAbdullah, S. A. and Nakagoshi, N. Mar-07
Four Decades of Forest Persistence, Clearance and Logging on Borneo Gaveau, D. L. A et al.Jul-14
Fuelling the biodiversity crisis: species loss of ground-dwelling forest ants in oil palm plantations in Sabah, Malaysia (Borneo)Bruhl, C, A. and Eltz, T.Feb-09
Global warming, elevational ranges and the vulnerability of tropical biotaLaurance, W. F. et al. Oct-10
Greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm and a review of the RSPO’s greenhouse gas calculatorActon, J and Hewitt, N. Aug-16
Harvesting and conservation: are both possible for the palm Iriartea deltoidea?Anderson, P, J. and Putz, F. E. 2002
Habitat fragmentation and its lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystemsHaddad, N. M. et al.Mar-15
High Conservation Value or high confusion value? Sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation in the tropics Edwards, D. P. et al.Jan-12
Human-sun bear conflicts in East Kalimantan, Indonesian BorneoFredriksson, G.2005
How will oil palm expansion affect biodiversity? Fitzherbert, E. B. et al. Oct-08
Impacts of rain forest fragmentation on butterflies in northern Borneo: species richness, turnover and the value of small fragments Benedick, S. et al. Aug-06
Impacts of roads and linear clearings on tropical forests Laurance, W. F. et alDec-09
Improved sampling methods document decline in soil organic carbon stocks and concentrations of permanganate oxidizable carbon after transition from swidden to oil palm cultivation Bruuna, T. B. et al.Sep-13
Increasing the scientific evidence-base in the “High Conservation Value” (HCV) approach for biodiversity conservation in managed tropical landscapes Senior, M. J. M. et al.Oct-14
Is oil palm agriculture really destroying tropical biodiversity? Koh, L. P. and Wilcove, D. S.Mar-08
Large Mammal Use of Linear Remnant Forests in an Industrial Pulpwood Plantation in Sumatra, IndonesiaYaap, B. et al.Dec-16
Lessons from research for sustainable development and conservation in BorneoLaurance, W. F. Dec-16
Losses of soil carbon by converting tropical forest to plantations: Erosion and decomposition Guillaume, T. et al.Apr-15
Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council's Role in the Implementation of the MSPO Certification SchemeKumaran, S. and Singh, H.Oct-16
Mapping of Individual Oil Palm Trees Using Airborne Hyperspectral Sensing: An Overview Jusoff, K. and Pathan, M. May-09
Minimizing the biodiversity impact of Neotropical oil palm development Gilroy, J. J. et al.Aug-14
Mitigating the impact of oil palm monoculture on freshwater fishes in Southeast Asia Giam, X. et al .Oct-15
Oil palm research in context: Identifying the need for biodiversity assessmentTurner, E. C. et al.Feb-08
Oil Palm Sustainability Standards in Malaysia and Peat Land ManagementKumaran, S. and Singh, H.Aug-16
Palm oil markets and future supplyCarter, C. et al.Apr-07
Palm oil production through sustainable plantationsBasiron, Y. Apr-07
Pervasive impact of large-scale edge effects on a beetle community Ewers, R. M. and Didham, R. K.Jan-08
Preliminary assessment of RSPO's recommendations for soil erosion control measuresActon, J. et al. Jun-16
Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity Gibson, L. et al.Sep-11
Primate crop-raiding: a study of local perceptions in four villages in North Sumatra, Indonesia Marchal, V. and Hill, C.Nov-09
Protected areas of Borneo fail to protect forest landscapes with high habitat connectivity Proctor, S. et al.Jun-11
Protected areas in Borneo may fail to conserve tropical forest biodiversity under climate change Scriven, S. A. et al.Apr-15
Quantifying killing of orangutans and human-orangutan conflict in Kalimantan, Indonesia Meijaard, E. et al.Nov-11
Rapid upslope shifts in New Guinean birds illustrate strong distributional responses of tropical montane species to global warming Freeman, B. G. and Freeman, A. M. CMar-14
Reconciling food production and biodiversity conservation: land sharing and land sparing compared Phalan, B. et al. Sep-11
Reducing Carbon Emissions from Forest Conversion for Oil Palm Agriculture in Gabon Burton, M. E. H. et al.Jun-16
Reframing the land-sparing/land-sharing debate for biodiversity conservation Kremen, C.2015
Remotely sensed evidence of tropical peatland conversion to oil palm Koh, L. P. et alFeb-11
Riparian reserves within oil palm plantations conserve logged forest leaf litter ant communities and maintain associated scavenging rates Gray, C. L. et al. Jul-15
Sixteen years of change in the global terrestrial human footprint and implications for biodiversity conservationVenter, O. et al. Aug-16
Saving tropical forests by knowing what we consume Giam, X. et al.Oct-15
Selective-logging and oil palm: multitaxon impacts, biodiversity indicators, and trade-offs for conservation planningEdwards, D. P. et alDec-14
Soil Biology & Biochemistry Deforestation for oil palm alters the fundamental balance of the soil N cycle Hamilton, L. et al.Apr-16
Soil carbon stocks under oil palm plantations in Bahia State, Brazil Frazãoa, L. A. et al.Mar-14
Southeast Asian biodiversity: an impending disaster Sodhi, N. S. et al.Dec-04
Spatial patterns of carbon, biodiversity, deforestation threat, and REDD+ projects in Indonesia Murray, J. P. et al.Jan-15
Spatially explicit scenario analysis for reconciling agricultural expansion, forest protection, and carbon conservation in Indonesia Koh, L. P. and Ghazoul, J.May-10
Spillover of insects from rain forest into adjacent oil palm plantations Lucey, J. M. and Hill, J. K.May-12
Stranded Assets in Palm Oil Production: A Case Study of IndonesiaMorel, A. et al.Jul-16
Surrounding habitats mediate the trade-off between land-sharing and land-sparing agriculture in the tropics Gilroy, J. J. et al.Jul-14
Sustainable Management in Crop Monocultures: The Impact of Retaining Forest on Oil Palm Yield Edwards, F. A. et al.Mar-14
Synergies for Improving Oil Palm Production and Forest Conservation in Floodplain Landscapes Abram, N. K. et al.Jun-14
Systematic review of effects on biodiversity from oil palm production Savilaakso, S. et al.Feb-14
Ten principles for a landscape approach to reconciling agriculture, conservation, and other competing land uses Sayera, J. et al.May-13
Terrestrial Mammal Species Richness and Composition in Three Small Forest Patches within an Oil Palm Landscape in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo Bernard, H. et al.Sep-14
The diversity of beetle assemblages in different habitat types in Sabah, MalaysiaChung, A. Y. C et al.Dec-00
The Impacts of Oil Palm on Recent Deforestation and Biodiversity LossVijay, V. et al.Jul-16
The Potential of Oil Palm Landscapes to Support At Risk Species Loong, Y. K. et al.May-16
Tigers, markets and palm oil: market potential for conservationBateman, I. J. et al.Apr-10
Tropical forest fragments contribute to species richness in adjacent oil palm plantations Lucey, J. M. et al.Sep-14
The fate of Amazonian forest fragments: A 32-year investigationLaurance, S. et al.Jan-11
What are the limits to oil palm expansion?Pirker, J. et al.Sep-16
Where and How Are Roads Endangering Mammals in Southeast Asia’s Forests? Clements, G. R. et al.Dec-14
Wildlife-friendly oil palm plantations fail to protect biodiversity effectively Edwards, D. P. et al. Feb-10


Last updated: 13/11/2016