Sustainable management in crop monocultures: the impact of retaining forest on oil palm yield

Edwards, Felicity A., Edwards, David P., Sloan, Sean, and Hamer, Keith C. (2014) Sustainable management in crop monocultures: the impact of retaining forest on oil palm yield. PLoS ONE, 9 (3). e91695. pp. 1-8.

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Abstract

Tropical agriculture is expanding rapidly at the expense of forest, driving a global extinction crisis. How to create agricultural landscapes that minimise the clearance of forest and maximise sustainability is thus a key issue. One possibility is protecting natural forest within or adjacent to crop monocultures to harness important ecosystem services provided by biodiversity spill-over that may facilitate production. Yet this contrasts with the conflicting potential that the retention of forest exports dis-services, such as agricultural pests. We focus on oil palm and obtained yields from 499 plantation parcels spanning a total of ≈ 23,000 ha of oil palm plantation in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. We investigate the relationship between the extent and proximity of both contiguous and fragmented dipterocarp forest cover and oil palm yield, controlling for variation in oil palm age and for environmental heterogeneity by incorporating proximity to non-native forestry plantations, other oil palm plantations, and large rivers, elevation and soil type in our models. The extent of forest cover and proximity to dipterocarp forest were not significant predictors of oil palm yield. Similarly, proximity to large rivers and other oil palm plantations, as well as soil type had no significant effect. Instead, lower elevation and closer proximity to forestry plantations had significant positive impacts on oil palm yield. These findings suggest that if dipterocarp forests are exporting ecosystem service benefits or ecosystem dis-services, that the net effect on yield is neutral. There is thus no evidence to support arguments that forest should be retained within or adjacent to oil palm monocultures for the provision of ecosystem services that benefit yield. We urge for more nuanced assessments of the impacts of forest and biodiversity on yields in crop monocultures to better understand their role in sustainable agriculture.

Item ID: 33751
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2014 Edwards et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2014 09:31
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070108 Sustainable Agricultural Development @ 50%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0703 Crop and Pasture Production > 070301 Agro-ecosystem Function and Prediction @ 50%
SEO Codes: 82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8201 Forestry > 820103 Integration of Farm and Forestry @ 50%
82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8203 Industrial Crops > 820303 Plant Extract Crops (e.g. Pyrethrum, Jojoba) @ 50%
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