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Research Report

Systematic review of effects on biodiversity from oil palm production

Sini Savilaakso
Claude Garcia
John Garcia-Ulloa
Jaboury Ghazoul
Martha Groom
Manuel R Guariguata
Yves Laumonier
Robert Nasi
Gillian Petrokofsky
Jake Snaddon
Michal Zrust
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2014
Pages: 40
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)

    Over the last decade there has been a growing interest in bioenergy, especially biofuels, that has been driven by concerns about global climate change, increasing energy demand, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels (Rajagopal and Zilberman 2007). Energy derived from plant material, such as sugarcane and oil palm, offers, at least in theory, a promising way to answer energy demand without increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In addition, biofuel production can create additional income for the rural poor and advance economic development (Feintrenie et al. 2010).

    Nevertheless, biofuel-based opportunities do not come without concerns. Direct or indirect land use change...

  2. (pp. 2-5)

    An a priori protocol was established, peer reviewed and posted on the website of the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE) after acceptance by CEE (Savilaakso et al. 2013). The protocol was followed with one change: the secondary study question on standards was revised after publication of the protocol and is presented in this review in the form used.

    The original literature search was conducted between May and November 2011 and updated between October and November 2012 to retrieve articles published after November 2011. The search included academic literature databases, internet search engines, as well as websites of specialist organizations. In...

  3. (pp. 6-17)

    The searches returned 9143 articles after duplicate removal (Figure 1). Of these articles, approximately 13 per cent had a relevant title and keywords and were therefore examined further. At the abstract-assessment stage, 9.8 per cent of articles satisfied the inclusion criteria and were read in full. Of those, 25 articles (21 per cent of those read in full) reported single studies with an appropriate comparator (Appendix 3). All of the selected studies belonged to category III (Table 2), which meant that none were excluded on the grounds of weak methodology.

    All 25 articles included in the review were published in...

  4. (pp. 18-19)

    Although the number of studies that met the inclusion criteria was small relative to the amount of literature broadly related to the review topic, the evidence on species richness and community similarity from the included studies showed clearly that oil palm plantations have reduced species richness compared with primary and secondary forests, and the composition of species assemblage changes significantly after forest conversion to oil palm plantation. Species-specific responses would be expected to vary, but based on the studies included in the review, regardless of the taxa, forest specialists do not, in general, succeed in oil palm plantations. The findings...

  5. (pp. 20-20)

    The available evidence suggests that oil palm plantations support lower species richness than primary or secondary forest. Also, forest conversion to oil palm plantation leads to significant changes in community composition, which indicates that oil palm plantations are not suitable habitats for the majority of forest species. Unfortunately, very little information was available about the impacts of smallholder plantations or different standards, which makes it difficult to evaluate their usefulness.

    The review identified several knowledge gaps about the impacts of biofuel crop cultivation on biodiversity and ecosystem function:

    Landscape level studies that would contribute better knowledge of the impacts at...