Higher levels of sustainability certification could generate greater forest protection in Indonesia

Posted on: January 15, 2018

A group of American scientists investigated the effect of sustainability certification on deforestation in oil palm plantations from 2001 to 2015. To evaluate the impact of certification on deforestation and fire, they used a comprehensive dataset of RSPO certified and noncertified oil palm plantations (∼188,000 km2) in Indonesia, as well as annual remotely sensed metrics of tree cover loss and fire occurrence.

The scientists found a significant impact of certification on deforestation, and indicate that higher levels of certification could generate greater forest protection. Positive incentives for forest protection, such as a price premium linked to forest conservation, in their view may increase forest area preserved through certification. With around 20% of all global palm oil now certified, the RSPO has great potential to influence tropical land cover change, they stress. Whether roundtable members embrace higher levels of stringency and transparency around land use change, and how such changes might affect incentives for RSPO membership, will determine palm oil certification’s contribution to tropical forest conservation, they conclude.

Please read the full paper here.