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Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 562573
Title Hydrological and economic effects of oil palm cultivation in Indonesian peatlands
Author(s) Sumarga, Elham; Hein, Lars; Hooijer, Aljosja; Vernimmen, Ronald
Source Ecology and Society 21 (2016)2. - ISSN 1708-3087
DOI https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-08490-210252
Department(s) Environmental Systems Analysis
WIMEK
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Keyword(s) Ecosystem services - Flood risk modeling - Indonesia - Jelutung - Oil palm - Peat
Abstract

Oil palm has increasingly been established on peatlands throughout Indonesia. One of the concerns is that the drainage required for cultivating oil palm in peatlands leads to soil subsidence, potentially increasing future flood risks. This study analyzes the hydrological and economic effects of oil palm production in a peat landscape in Central Kalimantan. We examine two land use scenarios, one involving conversion of the complete landscape including a large peat area to oil palm plantations, and another involving mixed land use including oil palm plantations, jelutung (jungle rubber; (Dyera spp.) plantations, and natural forest. The hydrological effect was analyzed through flood risk modeling using a high-resolution digital elevation model. For the economic analysis, we analyzed four ecosystem services: oil palm production, jelutung production, carbon sequestration, and orangutan habitat. This study shows that after 100 years, in the oil palm scenario, about 67% of peat in the study area will be subject to regular flooding. The flood-prone area will be unsuitable for oil palm and other crops requiring drained soils. The oil palm scenario is the most profitable only in the short term and when the externalities of oil palm production, i.e., the costs of CO2emissions, are not considered. In the examined scenarios, the social costs of carbon emissions exceed the private benefits from oil palm plantations in peat. Depending upon the local hydrology, income from jelutung, which can sustainably be grown in undrained conditions and does not lead to soil subsidence, outweighs that from oil palm after several decades. These findings illustrate the trade-offs faced at present in Indonesian peatland management and point to economic advantages of an approach that involves expansion of oil palm on mineral lands while conserving natural peat forests and using degraded peat for crops that do not require drainage.

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