Project

Back to overview

Modelling land use for decision support in the context of biofuel expansion

English title Modelling land use for decision support in the context of biofuel expansion
Applicant Koh Lian Pin
Number 125186
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Ecosystem Management Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.06.2009 - 30.09.2012
Approved amount 172'101.00
Show all

All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Social geography and ecology
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences

Keywords (10)

oil palm; Indonesia; land use; biofuel; livelihood; REDD; agroforestry; biodiesel; sustainable agriculture; rural livelihoods

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Rapid expansions of biofuel crops could result in detrimental impacts on the environment, food security, and rural livelihoods, but currently there is little idea of the severity and extent of these potential threats. Among conventional biofuel crops, oil palm deserves special attention. On the one hand, it has become a major driver of tropical deforestation over the last few decades, on the other, rising palm oil prices have created new opportunities for poverty alleviation through oil palm agriculture by poor tropical farmers. Our project seeks to provide new information, in the form of data and models, by which the suitability of oil palm and other land uses in Indonesia can be evaluated from economic, social and environmental and perspectives. We aim to identify the contribution that oil palm can make towards rural income in the medium- and long-term, the potential for capitalizing on such opportunities by different segments of society, and their relative vulnerabilities in doing so. We also seek to identify where oil palm could be most effectively promoted to minimize impacts on natural forests while maximizing productivity. We have two main questions that encompass a number of specific objectives:How does the profitability of oil palm agriculture compare with alternative land uses under different economic and environmental scenarios, and how is this mapped across Indonesia? Models of productivity of seven major commercial crops, including oil palm, will be developed and used to map productivity potentials with regards to environmental conditions prevailing across Indonesia. The potential value of REDD across Indonesia will also be evaluated. We will then compare profitability of oil palm with other commercial crops and REDD under alternative crop and carbon pricing scenarios and land use costs, allowing the identification of land uses that provide highest profit margins across different localities in Indonesia.How will opportunities afforded by different oil palm production systems affect livelihoods? We will quantify changes in livelihood assets, both financial and natural, following adoption of different oil palm production systems at five Indonesian study locations. Using surveys, we will assess how socioeconomic variables at the household scale affect land use decision-making. Simulation models will be developed to visualise the optimal land use allocation over the long term, including scenarios that encompass REDD. The profitability, and therefore potential future expansion, of oil palm cultivation relative to alternative land uses under a range of expected environmental and market pricing scenarios can therefore be evaluated.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
No farmer left behind in sustainable biofuel production
Lee J. S. H. Rist L. Obidzinski K. Ghazoul J. & Koh L. P (2011), No farmer left behind in sustainable biofuel production, in Biological Conservation, 144, 2512-2516.
Impacts of biofuel expansion in biodiversity hotspots
Lee J. S. H. Garcia-Ulloa J. & Koh L. P. (2011), Impacts of biofuel expansion in biodiversity hotspots, in Zachos F. E. & Habel J. C. (ed.), Springer, New York, U.S.A., 277-293.
Impacts of Liquid Biofuels on Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity
Stromberg P. M. Gasparatos A. Lee J. S. H. Garcia-Uloa J. Koh L. P. & Takeuchi K. (2010), Impacts of Liquid Biofuels on Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity.
Biofuels: Social Benefits
Rist L. Lee J. S. H. & Koh L. P. (2009), Biofuels: Social Benefits, in Science, 326, 1344-1344.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) Singapore (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Centre for International Forestry Research Indonesia (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
PT Musim Mas Indonesia (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
International Conference on Research for Development 01.10.2012 Bern, Switzerland
Society for Conservation Biology Asia 2012 01.07.2012 Bangalore, India
International Conference for Oil Palm and the Environment (ICOPE) 2012 01.02.2012 Bali, Indonesia
PSC-ETNA Summer School 2011 01.07.2011 Klewenalp, Switzerland
Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) Conference 2010 01.06.2010 Bali Indonesia
Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) RT7 01.11.2009 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
133598 Comprehensive Tradeoff Analyses of the Environmental and Socioeconomic Implications of Alternative Land-Use and Development Scenarios in the Developing Tropics 01.06.2011 SNSF Professorships

Abstract

Biofuels have the potential to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, lower emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), and enhance rural development. Rapid expansions of biofuel crops could, however, result in detrimental impacts on the environment, food security, and rural livelihoods, but currently there is little idea of the severity and extent of these potential threats. Among conventional biofuel crops, oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) deserves special attention. On the one hand, it has become a major driver of tropical deforestation over the last few decades, and may threaten to undermine carbon sequestration and payment schemes such as currently discussed Reducing Carbon Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) initiatives. On the other, rising palm oil prices have created new opportunities for poverty alleviation through oil palm agriculture by poor tropical farmers. Our project seeks to provide new information, in the form of data and models, by which the suitability of oil palm and other land uses in Indonesia can be evaluated from economic, social and environmental and perspectives. We aim to identify the contribution that oil palm can make towards rural income in the medium- and long-term, the potential for capitalizing on such opportunities by different segments of society, and their relative vulnerabilities in doing so. We also seek to identify where oil palm could be most effectively promoted to minimize impacts on natural forests while maximizing productivity. We have two main questions that encompass a number of specific objectives:How does the profitability of oil palm agriculture compare with alternative land uses under different economic and environmental scenarios, and how is this mapped across Indonesia? Models of productivity of seven major commercial crops, including oil palm, will be developed and used to map productivity potentials with regards to environmental conditions prevailing across Indonesia. The potential value of REDD across Indonesia will also be evaluated. Using published estimates of carbon biomass in oil palm plantations and forests, we will calculate potential carbon savings from avoiding conversion to oil palm. Economic values to these carbon savings based on alternative post-2012 global climate policies and expected market carbon prices will be assigned. We will then compare profitability of oil palm with other commercial crops and REDD under alternative crop and carbon pricing scenarios and land use costs, allowing the identification of land uses that provide highest profit margins across different localities in Indonesia.In the context of expected land use change, how will opportunities afforded by different oil palm production systems affect livelihoods? We will quantify changes in livelihood assets, both financial and natural, following adoption of different oil palm production systems at five Indonesian study locations. Using surveys, we will assess how socioeconomic variables at the household scale affect land use decision-making. The specific impacts of oil palm expansion on income, and how these changes are distributed across different sectors of society, and across regions will similarly be evaluated. Simulation models will be developed to visualise the optimal land use allocation over the long term, including scenarios that encompass REDD. The profitability, and therefore potential future expansion, of oil palm cultivation relative to alternative land uses under a range of expected environmental and market pricing scenarios can therefore be evaluated.Our research addresses two critical gaps in knowledge: the potential impacts of oil palm expansion on rural livelihoods over the medium and long-term; and the integration of economic with environmental information to determine optimal land use policy with regard to oil palm development at provincial and national scales.
-