Oil Palm Expansion: Competing Claim of Lands for Food, Biofuels, and Conservation



At about 20 % of total GHG emissions, land use, land use change and the forestry (LULUCF) sectors contribute significantly to global green house gas (GHG) emissions. This percentage may be significantly higher in countries with huge forest resources, like Indonesia. In Indonesia, forests are increasingly converted to satisfy the growing demand for commercial agricultural products, most notably oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), not only for food but also for biofuels. Although forest losses caused by oil palm expansion are considered to be one of major contributors to land use change (LUC), oil palm expansion has less visible additional indirect effects in accelerating forest transformation. These are hardly studied, as they require an in depth knowledge and understanding of socio-economic changes caused by oil palm expansion at the grass-root level, the household level. These complex indirect effects receive no or only scant attention. This is striking to note, since they may become a major cause of forest conversion in the (near) future. Oil palm production leads to complex population redistribution. Local people are displaced not only by large scale investors, but also sold out by in-migrants. Large numbers of migrants are entering the Indonesia oil palm producing regions, hoping to benefit from the economic opportunities oil palm plantations provide. The search for arable land by a fast growing population puts increasing pressure on remaining (protected) forest areas, when they start investing in land for small scale oil palm plantations. Many of the remaining areas consist of peatlands. GHG emissions are therefore expected to rise tremendously. Analyzing these indirect socio-economic land use effects associated with oil palm expansion is therefore urgently required and is the main objective of this chapter.


Oil palm Food Biofuels Conservation Landuse change Emission Migration 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Geoscience, International Development StudiesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of ForestryGadjah Mada UniversityYogyakartaIndonesia

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