How can less deforestation go hand in hand with producing more palm oil?

Published on
May 13, 2022

Palm oil is used in many products, in food products, shampoos or as biofuel. The world’s demand for these products and thus palm oil is ever increasing. To meet this demand for oil, the land area for oil palm increased 6-fold from 2000 to 2018. For one third this was at a cost of peat lands and forests. It is expected that the Indonesian palm oil production will increase even further with almost 50 % by 2036. Maja Slingerland is researching how palm oil production can be intensified in a more sustainable way. NRC, a Dutch newspaper, recently published an article on sustainable intensification in palm oil production.

In the news article Maja Slingerland explained that by decreasing the yield gap, it will be possible to produce more palm oil on the same land area. As a result less land will be exploited for more oil palm plantations. The yield gap is largest in oil palm plantations managed by smallholder farmers, a group of 2.6 million farmers who produce 42 % of the palm oil. By improving the yield in these farms from 15 to 20 t /ha the profit is huge.

Are you interested to read further about sustainable intensification in oil palm plantations. Then read this article published in Nature Sustainability where Slingerland and colleagues analysed how intensification on existing plantations could help Indonesia meet palm oil demand while preserving fragile ecosystems.