In recent years, palm oil has been the focus of considerable debate. Palm oil production is largely responsible for the deforestation that is currently occurring in Malaysia and Indonesia to the detriment of local biodiversity. Borneo, for example, has the fastest rate of tropical deforestation on the planet. In order to limit the impact of palm plantations on the environment and to prevent the expansion of deforestation linked with palm oil production, a certification, called the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) has been established. This allows certification of plantations seeking to make palm oil production compatible with environmental protection.

An ecosystem living on borrowed time

Currently, the RSPO certifies 430,588 ha of palm plantations around the world. In Malaysia, plantations cover more than 2 million hectares of land. Most of these palm groves are therefore uncertified. Malaysia's biodiversity is truly exceptional but animals such as orangutans, rhinoceros hornbills, Asian elephants, and even sun bears are threatened by habitat loss due to palm plantations.

Conservation actions

Hutan and Beauval Nature propose implementing an innovative methodology to improve RSPO certification of palm oil. The idea is to assess and monitor biodiversity within the palm plantations. To do this, a multidisciplinary approach will be developed in order to identify indicators that will allow the palm plantations to either be certified as being sustainable or not.

To gather as many indicators as possible, different groups of animals, such as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates, will be targeted by this approach, as well as various strata within the palm plantations.

The aim is to create an inexpensive methodology that can be replicated in other countries where palm oil trees are cultivated.

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