Palm oil: Better Management Practices

A number of effective strategies already exist that can help reduce the environmental problems caused by oil palm plantations and palm oil processing.

Solutions already exist

Given the rate of expansion of the palm oil industry and its impact on key ecosystems and species, a concerted effort is needed by all stakeholders to identify and adopt cost-effective strategies to reduce the industry's overall impact.

This section outlines specific Better Management Practices (BMP) that should be considered in the development of such strategies.

These BMPs come from "World Agriculture & Environment" by Jason Clay (2004). The list is not intended to be exhaustive.

A collaborative effort

To be successful, BMP strategies will need to address many different issues and the concerns of a wide range of stakeholders. Stakeholders include plantation owners, national governments, regional governments controlling permit and concession agreements, buyers, lenders, investors, consumers and local communities.

Encouraging the uptake of BMPs

One important strategy for promoting BMPs in palm oil developments will be the development of industry investment screens that encourage investments in more sustainable palm oil businesses (e.g., those that incorporate BMPs).

This is important because expanding and running palm oil businesses requires considerable capital. For example, all major Dutch banks have oil palm investments in Indonesia.

Plantations that are well-sited and have adopted practices that increase their efficiency, reduce their input use, reduce their waste, and create valuable by-products from waste are less risky investments.

The same risk-reducing rationale would be of interest to those who insure palm oil companies. Poorly managed operations are more likely to have conflicts with neighbours, or increased liability as a result of flooding or fires.

Another effective strategy will be to work with large-scale, sympathetic vegetable oil purchasers to employ the same type of BMP-based screens as have been developed for investors and insurers as conditions for their purchases. These screens could become conditions of letter-of-credit purchase orders. This approach would signal to producers that buyers are interested in purchasing palm oil, but only that which is produced in a more sustainable way.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.