An ecosystem services analysis of oil palm and alternative land use systems on peat in Malaysia

In this article, we assess the potential of alternative land use systems using non-drainage peatland species which could eventually phase out or partly replace oil palm plantations on undrainable peatlands. We have used the ecosystem services approach to analyse what scenarios using drainage-free peatland species could be suitable alternatives for oil palm cultivation on peat and how these scenarios compare to oil palm plantations in terms of selected ecosystem services. Our results indicate that alternative paludiculture systems will provide more direct and indirect ecosystem services than oil palm plantations on peat. We also found that stakeholders were aware of issues with growing oil palm on peat, and that there was a general intention for sustainable use of peatlands amongst several groups of stakeholders. Replacing oil palm with alternative systems such as paludiculture in Malaysia is not yet realistic. The most important impediments are a lack of knowledge on potential of non-drainage peatland species and its associated value chains, as well as the technical difficulty for smallholders to implement such a system. We recommend starting experimental plantings with paludiculture systems to further test species performance, life cycle analysis, growth, intercropping limitations and possibilities, yields and improvements in the value chain. © 2019 Lembaga Minyak Sawit Malaysia. All rights reserved.
  • Authors: Middelberg, J., Azhar, B., Khoon, K.L., Van, Der, Meer, P.J.
  • Author Affiliation: Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysian Palm Oil Board
  • Subjects: ecosystem services, oil palms, peatlands, land use, drainage, cultivation
  • Publication type: Journal Article
  • Source: Journal of Oil Palm Research 31(3): 468-479
  • Year: 2019
  • DOI:
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