Tropical Deforestation

Certification of oil palm production

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Science  26 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6374, pp. 408-409
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6374.408-a

Certification reduces forest loss, but more needs to be done to make oil palm plantations truly sustainable.


Sustainability certification, whereby commitments are made to produce only sustainable crops, is a tool that is increasingly used to limit the damage to tropical forests caused by large-scale agricultural production. Carlson et al. asked how effective this is by assessing the impact of certification schemes for oil palm in Indonesia. A comparison of the performance of certified versus noncertified oil palm plantations over a 15-year period showed that certification reduced the rate of deforestation by 33%—a significant reduction, yet most of the certified areas already retained little residual forest. Certification also failed to reduce fire or peatland clearance. The authors recommend wider adoption of certification schemes in more forested areas to improve the outlook for remaining forest.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 115, 121 (2018).

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