Maintaining 100m forest buffers along rivers will boost profits for oil palm plantations, say researchers

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 19 Aug 2018

KOTA KINABALU: A 100-metre riverbank forest buffer will help in maintaining the profits of plantations in floodplains and also help in the environmental conservation of Sabah’s east coast, according to scientific research.

Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens said that it was clear that riparian (next to rivers) forest buffers protected plantations from losing land to river erosion.

Riparian buffers of tens of meters may ensure that oil palm plantations on floodplains will have long-term viability explained Goossens, whose who is the co-author of a scientific paper published in Earth’s Future.

Such forest buffers along riverbanks will contribute to ecosystem services.

“We strongly suggest that oil palm plantations set aside riparian forest buffers of at least 100 meters wide along large rivers such as Kinabatangan, Segama, Paitan, Sugut, Kalumpang, Serudong and Silabukan.

He also hoped that the results of this research would be considered by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and oil palm companies in Sabah.

The scientific research paper is published by Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences and School of Earth and Ocean Sciences and Kinabatangan-based Danau Girang Field Centre.

Dr Alexander Horton of Cardiff’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, who co-authored the research paper, said that preserving tropical forest buffers along the margins of large meandering rivers reduce the area of land lost to the river through erosion of the banks.

He said by reducing initial planting expenditure and safeguarding young palms from being lost to erosion before they generate revenue, riparian buffers have the potential to increase the short-term profitability of newly-established plantations.

Horton said this was observed both in the long- and short-term economic projections as newly established plantations’ productivity were delayed.
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