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Carbon neutral expansion of oil palm plantations in the Neotropics

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Quezada Juan Carlos, Etter Andres, Ghazoul Jaboury, Buttler Alexandre, Guillaume Thomas,
Project Oil Palm Adaptive Landscapes
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Science Advances
Volume (Issue) 5(11)
Page(s) eaaw4418 - eaaw4418
Title of proceedings Science Advances
DOI 10.1126/sciadv.aaw4418

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Alternatives to ecologically devastating deforestation land use change trajectories are needed to reduce the carbon footprint of oil palm (OP) plantations in the tropics. Although various land use change options have been proposed, so far, there are no empirical data on their long-term ecosystem carbon pools effects. Our results demonstrate that pasture-to-OP conversion in savanna regions does not change ecosystem carbon storage, after 56 years in Colombia. Compared to rainforest conversion, this alternative land use change reduces net ecosystem carbon losses by 99.7 ± 9.6%. Soil organic carbon (SOC) decreased until 36 years after conversion, due to a fast decomposition of pasture-derived carbon, counterbalancing the carbon gains in OP biomass. The recovery of topsoil carbon content, suggests that SOC stocks might partly recover during a third plantation cycle. Hence, greater OP sustainability can be achieved if its expansion is oriented toward pasture land.