Potential for low-emissions oil palm production in Indonesia: insights from spatiotemporal dynamics

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Safitri, L., Galdos, M., Comber, A. and Challinor, A. 2024. Potential for low-emissions oil palm production in Indonesia: insights from spatiotemporal dynamics. Environmental Research Letters. 19, p. 054045. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ad404a

AuthorsSafitri, L., Galdos, M., Comber, A. and Challinor, A.

Rising global demand for palm oil has created environmental pressures related to deforestation, burning, and peat exploitation, which in turn drives increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. GHG emissions in oil palm (OP) production are known to vary spatially. However, temporal changes across contrasting management and soil types, are less well studied. This paper quantifies spatiotemporal GHG emissions across contrasting regions, management types, and soil types for the period 1990–2019 to assess the potential for reducing emission. The study focusses on Indonesia, as the biggest producer of OP, and in particular on the North Sumatra and Riau provinces, where OP is intensively produced. GHG inventories in 5 year time steps were constructed to investigate the change in drivers of emissions using spatial data, resampled to a 500 m grid. Total GHG emissions were found to have increased in both regions due to expanding OP production. However, results show a reduction in emissions flux from 1.98 to 1.15 Ton Ceq. ha−1yr−1 in North Sumatra and 9.63–2.67 Ton Ceq. ha−1yr−1 in Riau over the study period. This reduced flux was linked to the decreased deforestation and burning activities, together with increased biomass increment from lower carbon stock area conversion to OP. In both provinces, smallholder plantations emitted fewer emissions than industrial ones, and production on organic soils resulted in consistently higher emissions than on mineral soils. In North Sumatra, emissions under all management and soil types were found to decrease. In Riau, however, GHG emissions on organic soils regardless of management types, remained high. Our findings emphasise that potential for low-emissions OP production is attainable by reducing emissions per unit area through an improved understanding of GHG emissions spatiotemporal variability and their drivers. These contribute to reinforcing ongoing government regulations and guiding the industry towards low-emission OP productions.

KeywordsGHG flux; Land use change; Sustainable; Management types; Soil types
Year of Publication2024
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Journal citation19, p. 054045
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ad404a
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeGrowing Health [ISP]
Growing Health (WP2) - bio-inspired solutions for healthier agroecosystems: Understanding soil environments
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online30 Apr 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted18 Apr 2024
PublisherIOP Publishing Ltd

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