NewsLatest Science-For-Policy Report on Conservation of At-Risk Species in Oil Palm Landscapes Out Now

June 7, 2016

In this science-for-policy report we focus on “at risk” species, and how well they are supported in oil palm landscapes. This report aims to provide information to help the RSPO develop indicators for measuring its impact on biodiversity conservation.

We add to our results for total biodiversity in “Co-benefits for biodiversity and carbon in land planning decisions within oil palm landscapes” by focusing specifically on “at risk” species (those which are likely to have difficulty persisting in oil palm plantations), and exclude open habitat and disturbance adapted species that are of less concern. We synthesised scientific data to determine presence of primary forest species and IUCN red-listed species in land-cover types that are typically found in oil palm growing regions to find out how many of these species they could support.

We found that large tracts of forest (even if quite degraded) are vital for conserving these species, and while the oil palm planted area supports very few primary forest or IUCN red-listed species, large forest patches and even complex multi-species commercial tree plantations can support substantial numbers of these species within an oil palm dominated landscape. We conclude that key indicators of the impact of RSPO certification on biodiversity conservation include: 1) avoided deforestation and further fragmentation, especially of large tracts of forest, 2) the configuration of land-cover types within RSPO certified plantations, including the amount, size, quality and connectivity of forest patches retained within the concession area.