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Sustainable oil palm industry: The possibilities

Rahima Khatun, Mohammad Imam Hasan Reza, M. Moniruzzaman and Zahira Yaakob

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2017, vol. 76, issue C, 608-619

Abstract: Cruel oil or green gold is a dilemma for the oil palm industry. The oil palm industry (planting and milling) has a devastating impact on the environment and ecosystems. Oil palm plantations and expansion cause deforestation, habitat loss, forest fragmentation, biodiversity loss, food chain disruption, soil property changes, water and air pollution, conversion of wetlands and arable lands, and increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, resulting in annual fires as well as increasing both subsidence and flood risk. Palm oil mill effluents (POME) are toxic compounds that cause eutrophication and acidification, pollute terrestrial and aquatic systems and release greenhouse gases. However, the oil palm industry is a million-dollar industry that ensures food security (oil and fat). There is increasing demand for palm oil due to population growth and for use as a biofuel feedstock. Significant higher production per hectare in comparison to other oil crops is the main advantage of oil palm. The anthropogenic pressure on the environment is increasing to fulfil the demand and increasing susceptibility to natural disasters. Therefore, the sustainability of this industry is an urgent need. This critical review identified gaps and researched ways for the oil palm industry to be sustainable. Maintaining ecological integrity (ecological health, connectivity, resilience); justifying land allocation (ecosystem service mapping); providing awareness, good management practices, no/minimum production gaps, high yield and disease resistant cultivar generation and plantations, supplemental forms of alternative sources, zero-waste milling technology; and locating plantations on suitable land without further deforestation can fulfil the oil palm industry's present and future demands without impairing the ecosystem or environment.

Keywords: Ecological integrity; Renewable energy; Sustainable agriculture; Ecosystem services; Oil palm farming; Production intensification (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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