Oil palm plantations and stream ecosystems in Borneo – JGR Biogeosciences

Check out our new publication on how land use in Indonesia affects freshwater stream temperature, turbidity, and metabolism!

Our work focused on small streams flowing through oil palm plantations, smallholder agriculture, and forests in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. We found that water temperatures in a stream draining a recently cleared plantation was almost 4 degrees Celsius (more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than a forest stream. Sediment concentrations were up to 550 times greater. We also recorded a spike in stream metabolism – the rate at which a stream consumes oxygen and an important measure of a stream’s health – during a drought.

The impact of these land use changes on fisheries, coastal zones and coral reefs – potentially many miles downstream – remains unclear because this study is one of the first to examine the oil palm’s effects on freshwater ecosystems.

You can read more about our work at the Stanford News Service, Mongabay, Food Navigator, Fondriest, University of Minnesota, and Better Palm Oil Debate.