Reducing Carbon Emissions from Forest Conversion for Oil Palm Agriculture in Gabon


Journal Article (Letter)

Copyright and Photocopying: © 2016 The Authors. Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Growing demand for palm oil is driving its expansion into the African tropics, potentially leading to significant carbon emissions if tropical forest is converted to palm monoculture. In this first study of a Central African oil palm concession (31,800 ha), we predict that the conversion of 11,500 ha of logged forest to a palm plantation in Gabon will release 1.50 Tg C (95% CI = [1.29, 1.76]). These emissions could be completely offset over 25 years through sequestration in planned forest set-asides given a 2.6:1 ratio of logged to converted forest. Using an agricultural suitability model, we find that careful national land-use planning could largely avoid high carbon emissions while meeting goals for palm oil production. We recommend that Gabon adopts a national carbon threshold for land conversion and requires concession-level set-aside ratios that meet no-net emissions criteria as mechanisms for steering plantations away from high carbon forests.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Burton, MEH; Poulsen, JR; Lee, ME; Medjibe, VP; Stewart, CG; Venkataraman, A; White, LJT

Published Date

  • May 1, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 297 - 307

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1755-263X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/conl.12265

Citation Source

  • Scopus