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Type: Journal article
Title: Remotely sensed evidence of tropical peatland conversion to oil palm
Author: Koh, L.
Miettinen, J.
Liew, S.
Ghazoul, J.
Citation: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2011; 108(12):5127-5132
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Issue Date: 2011
ISSN: 0027-8424
1091-6490
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Lian Pin Koh, Jukka Miettinen, Soo Chin Liew, and Jaboury Ghazoul
Abstract: Rising global demands for food and biofuels are driving forest clearance in the tropics. Oil-palm expansion contributes to biodiversity declines and carbon emissions in Southeast Asia. However, the magnitudes of these impacts remain largely unquantified until now. We produce a 250-m spatial resolution map of closed canopy oil-palm plantations in the lowlands of Peninsular Malaysia (2 million ha), Borneo (2.4 million ha), and Sumatra (3.9 million ha). We demonstrate that 6% (or ≈880,000 ha) of tropical peatlands in the region had been converted to oil-palm plantations by the early 2000s. Conversion of peatswamp forests to oil palm led to biodiversity declines of 1% in Borneo (equivalent to four species of forest-dwelling birds), 3.4% in Sumatra (16 species), and 12.1% in Peninsular Malaysia (46 species). This land-use change also contributed to the loss of ≈140 million Mg of aboveground biomass carbon, and annual emissions of ≈4.6 million Mg of belowground carbon from peat oxidation. Additionally, the loss of peatswamp forests implies the loss of carbon sequestration service through peat accumulation, which amounts to ≈660,000 Mg of carbon annually. By 2010, 2.3 million ha of peatswamp forests were clear-felled, and currently occur as degraded lands. Reforestation of these clearings could enhance biodiversity by up to ≈20%, whereas oil-palm establishment would exacerbate species losses by up to ≈12%. To safeguard the region's biodiversity and carbon stocks, conservation and reforestation efforts should target Central Kalimantan, Riau, and West Kalimantan, which retain three-quarters (3.9 million ha) of the remaining peatswamp forests in Southeast Asia.
Keywords: Carbon payment; climate change; Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation; rural livelihoods; tropical ecology
Rights: Copyright status unknown
RMID: 0020137084
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1018776108
Appears in Collections:Ecology, Evolution and Landscape Science publications

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