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.

Research papers


Title AuthorsMonth/Year
A global strategy for road building Laurance, W. F. et al. Sep 2014
A qualitative meta-synthesis of the benefits of eco-labeling in developing countriesCarlson, A. and Palmer, C.Mar 2016
A reality check for designer biofuel landscapes Struebig, M. J. et al.Jan 2010
A review of the ecosystem functions in oil palm plantations, using forests as a reference systemDislich, C. et al.Aug 2016
Asymmetric boundary shifts of tropical montane Lepidoptera over four decades of climate warming Chen, C. et al.Jan 2011
Better land-use allocation outperforms land sparing and land sharing approaches to conservation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia Lawa, E. A. et al. Jun 2015
Biodiversity hotspots for conservation prioritiesMyers, N. et al.Feb 2000
Biodiversity of leaf-litter ants in fragmented tropical rainforests of Borneo: the value of publically and privately managed forest fragmentsTawato, N. et alAug 2014
Carbon emissions from forest conversion by Kalimantan oil palm plantations Carlson, K. M. et al.Oct 2012
Carbon outcomes of major land‐cover transitions in SE Asia: great uncertainties and REDD+ policy implications Ziegler, A. D. et al.Jul 2012
Carbon stock of oil palm plantations and tropical forests in Malaysia: A review Kho, L. K. and Jepsen, M. R.Jul 2015
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 2014
Changes in bird communities following conversion of lowland forest to oil palm and rubber plantations in southern ThailandAratrakorn, S. et al. Mar 2006
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 2015
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 2007
Conservation in Oil Palm LandscapesBhagwat, S. A. and Willis, K. J. Feb 2009
Conservation Value of Remnant Riparian Forest Corridors of Varying Quality for Amazonian Birds and Mammals Lees, A. C. and Peres, C. A.Aug 2007
Deforestation rates in insular Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2010 Miettinen, J. et al. Jul 2011
Designer landscapes for sustainable biofuels Koh, L. P. et al.Aug 2009
Do riparian reserves support dung beetle biodiversity and ecosystem services in oil palm-dominated tropical landscapes Gray, C. L. et al.Apr 2014
Ecosystem Decay of Amazonian Forest Fragments : a 22-Year Investigation Gray, C. L. et al.Jun 2002
Elevation increases in moth assemblages over 42 years on a tropical mountainChena, I. et al.Dec 2008
Estimation of the impact of oil palm plantation establishment on greenhouse gas balance Germer, J and Sauerborn, J.Feb 2007
Evolution of sustainable palm oil policy in Southeast AsiaIvancic, H. and Koh, L. P.Jun 2016
Forest fragmentation and its correlation to human land use change in the state of Selangor, peninsular MalaysiaAbdullah, S. A. and Nakagoshi, N. Mar 2007
Four Decades of Forest Persistence, Clearance and Logging on Borneo Gaveau, D. L. A et al.Jul 2014
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 2009
Global warming, elevational ranges and the vulnerability of tropical biotaLaurance, W. F. et al. Oct 2010
Greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm and a review of the RSPO’s greenhouse gas calculatorActon, J and Hewitt, N. Aug 2016
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 2015
High Conservation Value or high confusion value? Sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation in the tropics Edwards, D. P. et al.Jan 2012
Human-sun bear conflicts in East Kalimantan, Indonesian BorneoFredriksson, G.2005
How will oil palm expansion affect biodiversity? Fitzherbert, E. B. et al. Oct 2008
Impacts of rain forest fragmentation on butterflies in northern Borneo: species richness, turnover and the value of small fragments Benedick, S. et al. Aug 2006
Impacts of roads and linear clearings on tropical forests Laurance, W. F. et alDec 2009
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 2013
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 2014
Is oil palm agriculture really destroying tropical biodiversity? Koh, L. P. and Wilcove, D. S.Mar 2008
Large Mammal Use of Linear Remnant Forests in an Industrial Pulpwood Plantation in Sumatra, IndonesiaYaap, B. et al.Dec 2016
Lessons from research for sustainable development and conservation in BorneoLaurance, W. F. Dec 2016
Losses of soil carbon by converting tropical forest to plantations: Erosion and decomposition Guillaume, T. et al.Apr 2015
Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council's Role in the Implementation of the MSPO Certification SchemeKumaran, S. and Singh, H.Oct 2016
Mapping of Individual Oil Palm Trees Using Airborne Hyperspectral Sensing: An Overview Jusoff, K. and Pathan, M. May 2009
Minimizing the biodiversity impact of Neotropical oil palm development Gilroy, J. J. et al.Aug 2014
Mitigating the impact of oil palm monoculture on freshwater fishes in Southeast Asia Giam, X. et al .Oct 2015
Oil palm research in context: Identifying the need for biodiversity assessmentTurner, E. C. et al.Feb 2008
Oil Palm Sustainability Standards in Malaysia and Peat Land ManagementKumaran, S. and Singh, H.Aug 2016
Palm oil markets and future supplyCarter, C. et al.Apr 2007
Palm oil production through sustainable plantationsBasiron, Y. Apr 2007
Pervasive impact of large-scale edge effects on a beetle community Ewers, R. M. and Didham, R. K.Jan 2008
Preliminary assessment of RSPO's recommendations for soil erosion control measuresActon, J. et al. Jun 2016
Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity Gibson, L. et al.Sep 2011
Primate crop-raiding: a study of local perceptions in four villages in North Sumatra, Indonesia Marchal, V. and Hill, C.Nov 2009
Protected areas of Borneo fail to protect forest landscapes with high habitat connectivity Proctor, S. et al.Jun 2011
Protected areas in Borneo may fail to conserve tropical forest biodiversity under climate change Scriven, S. A. et al.Apr 2015
Quantifying killing of orangutans and human-orangutan conflict in Kalimantan, Indonesia Meijaard, E. et al.Nov 2011
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 2014
Reconciling food production and biodiversity conservation: land sharing and land sparing compared Phalan, B. et al. Sep 2011
Reducing Carbon Emissions from Forest Conversion for Oil Palm Agriculture in Gabon Burton, M. E. H. et al.Jun 2016
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 2011
Riparian reserves within oil palm plantations conserve logged forest leaf litter ant communities and maintain associated scavenging rates Gray, C. L. et al. Jul 2015
Sixteen years of change in the global terrestrial human footprint and implications for biodiversity conservationVenter, O. et al. Aug 2016
Saving tropical forests by knowing what we consume Giam, X. et al.Oct 2015
Selective-logging and oil palm: multitaxon impacts, biodiversity indicators, and trade-offs for conservation planningEdwards, D. P. et alDec 2014
Soil Biology & Biochemistry Deforestation for oil palm alters the fundamental balance of the soil N cycle Hamilton, L. et al.Apr 2016
Soil carbon stocks under oil palm plantations in Bahia State, Brazil Frazãoa, L. A. et al.Mar 2014
Southeast Asian biodiversity: an impending disaster Sodhi, N. S. et al.Dec 2004
Spatial patterns of carbon, biodiversity, deforestation threat, and REDD+ projects in Indonesia Murray, J. P. et al.Jan 2015
Spatially explicit scenario analysis for reconciling agricultural expansion, forest protection, and carbon conservation in Indonesia Koh, L. P. and Ghazoul, J.May 2010
Spillover of insects from rain forest into adjacent oil palm plantations Lucey, J. M. and Hill, J. K.May 2012
Stranded Assets in Palm Oil Production: A Case Study of IndonesiaMorel, A. et al.Jul 2016
Surrounding habitats mediate the trade-off between land-sharing and land-sparing agriculture in the tropics Gilroy, J. J. et al.Jul 2014
Sustainable Management in Crop Monocultures: The Impact of Retaining Forest on Oil Palm Yield Edwards, F. A. et al.Mar 2014
Synergies for Improving Oil Palm Production and Forest Conservation in Floodplain Landscapes Abram, N. K. et al.Jun 2014
Systematic review of effects on biodiversity from oil palm production Savilaakso, S. et al.Feb 2014
Ten principles for a landscape approach to reconciling agriculture, conservation, and other competing land uses Sayera, J. et al.May 2013
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 2014
The diversity of beetle assemblages in different habitat types in Sabah, MalaysiaChung, A. Y. C et al.Dec 2000
The Impacts of Oil Palm on Recent Deforestation and Biodiversity LossVijay, V. et al.July 2016
The Potential of Oil Palm Landscapes to Support At Risk Species Loong, Y. K. et al.May 2016
Tigers, markets and palm oil: market potential for conservationBateman, I. J. et al.Apr 2010
Tropical forest fragments contribute to species richness in adjacent oil palm plantations Lucey, J. M. et al.Sep 2014
The fate of Amazonian forest fragments: A 32-year investigationLaurance, S. et al.Jan 2011
What are the limits to oil palm expansion?Pirker, J. et al.Sep 2016
Where and How Are Roads Endangering Mammals in Southeast Asia’s Forests? Clements, G. R. et al.Dec 2014
Wildlife-friendly oil palm plantations fail to protect biodiversity effectively Edwards, D. P. et al. Feb 2010