Aboveground carbon stocks in oil palm plantations and the threshold for carbon-neutral vegetation conversion on mineral soils

N. Khasanah, M. van Noordwijk, H. Ningsih

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The carbon (C) footprint of palm oil production is needed to judge emissions from potential biofuel use. Relevance includes wider sustainable palm oil debates. Within life cycle analysis, aboveground C debt is incurred if the vegetation replaced had a higher C stock than oil palm plantations. Our study included 25 plantations across Indonesia, in a stratified study design representing the range of conditions in which oil palm is grown. From allometric equations for palm biomass and observed growth rates, we estimated the time-averaged aboveground C stock for 25-year rotation and 95%-confidence interval to be 42.07 (42.04–42.10) Mg C ha−1 for plantations managed by company on mineral soils, 40.03 (39.75–40.30) Mg C ha−1 for plantations managed by company on peat, and 37.76 (37.42–38.09) Mg C ha−1 for smallholder oil palm on mineral soils. Oil palm can be established C debt-free on mineral soils with aboveground C stocks below these values; neutrality of mineral soil C pools was documented in a parallel study. Acknowledging variation in shoot:root ratios, the types of vegetation that can be converted debt-free to oil palm include grasslands and shrub, but not monocultural rubber plantations, rubber agroforest, and similar secondary or logged-over forests of higher C stock.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1119964
Number of pages18
JournalCogent Environmental Science
Volume1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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