Title of symposium:
Environmental sustainability in oil palm: linking science to policy and practice across the tropics

Principal organizer:
Lain E. Pardo-Vargas
Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS), College of Science and Engineering James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

Matthew Struebig
Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent

Eleanor Slade
University of Oxford

Lian Pin Koh
Environment Institute, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, South Australia

Paul Furumo
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Symposium summary:
Global cultivation of oil palm is centered in Southeast Asia where it is a major threat to biodiversity. Oil palm production is now rapidly expanding in the Latin America and Africa, but the impacts of this expansion have received far less attention. Only recently have researchers attempted to understand the potential impacts of oil palm development. Land-use history, management practices, and socio-economical context vary between regions making general sustainability assessments challenging. Therefore, it is important to understand these potential differences and evaluate whether the lessons learned from Asia can be applied to policies and practices in the oil palm industry elsewhere, or vice-versa.

This symposium will provide a forum to collate the science learned in oil palm sustainability, and highlight ways to apply this knowledge more broadly across the oil palm producing regions. We will identify cross-cutting research themes between the three geographic regions and help build a consensus on environmental management recommendations for environmental certification. We are especially interested in the applied environmental science behind habitat management and design of plantations, assessing the impacts of certification, verification of existing/proposed prioritization toolkits and certification criteria, environmental/socio-economic trade-offs, and the application of emerging mitigation mechanisms such as biodiversity offsetting. Learning from developments in other oil palm sustainability meetings, we seek insights from policy experts, practitioners, NGOs and academics to enhance knowledge exchange with the industry.

List of speakers and presentation titles:


Presentation title

Esther Baking,
Universiti Malaysia Sabah

The value of oil palm riparian reserves for tropical mammals

Jake Bicknell,
DICE, University of Kent

Designing oil palm landscapes that maximise biodiversity and ecosystem functions

Sugeng Budiharta,
Indonesian Institute of Sciences

Paying back the carbon and biodiversity debts from oil-palm plantations in Kalimantan, Indonesia

David Edwards
University of Sheffield

Minimising the biological impacts of oil palm expansion in the Neotropics

Paul Furumo
University of Puerto Rico

RSPO, land use change and trade in Neotropical commercial oil palm

John Garcia-Ulloa
ETH Z├╝rich, IUCN task force

Using workshops/games to find common ground for sustainability among actors in oil palm landscapes

Jane Hill
University of York

Optimising biodiversity and yield in smallholder oil palm plantations

Melissa Leduning,
Universiti Malaysia Sabah

Improving soil greenhouse gas fluxes in oil palm plantations

Lain E. Pardo-Vargas
TESS-James Cook University

Identifying critical limits in oil palm expansion for the conservation of terrestrial mammals in Colombia

Eleanor Slade,
University of Oxford

Sustainability lessons learned from the LOMBOK project in Malaysian Borneo

Matthew Struebig
DICE, University of Kent

Does the oil palm industry help alleviate poverty? Lessons from Indonesia

Ed Turner
University of Cambridge

Can management in oil palm plantations increase biodiversity and pest control?

Varsha Vijay
Duke University

The Impacts of Oil Palm on Recent Deforestation and Biodiversity Loss