The orangutan-oil palm conflict: economic constraints and opportunities for conservation

Swarna Nantha, H. and Tisdell, Clement A. (2009) The orangutan-oil palm conflict: economic constraints and opportunities for conservation. Biodiversity and Conservation, 18 2: 487-502. doi:10.1007/s10531-008-9512-3

Author Swarna Nantha, H.
Tisdell, Clement A.
Title The orangutan-oil palm conflict: economic constraints and opportunities for conservation
Journal name Biodiversity and Conservation   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0960-3115
Publication date 2009-02-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10531-008-9512-3
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 18
Issue 2
Start page 487
End page 502
Total pages 25
Editor A. T. Bull
Place of publication Netherland
Publisher Springer Netherlands
Language eng
Subject 149902 Ecological Economics
9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation
9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management
05 Environmental Sciences
0502 Environmental Science and Management
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Abstract The future of the orangutan (Pongo spp.) is far from secure despite the species’ high profile and media attention. The traditional threat to the orangutan has been widespread logging, but the continuing conversion of remaining habitat for oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) cultivation is hastening its extinction in the wild. This situation is driven by a robust global market for palm oil as a vegetable oil and biofuel. In tackling this conservation problem, therefore, economic factors cannot be overlooked. This article analyses these factors and how they curtail effective orangutan conservation. Of significance are the high opportunity costs of orangutan conservation and market failures associated with the public-goods nature of the orangutan’s forest habitat. Conservationists should consider these constraints when formulating remedial action. This article assesses strategies that reduce the opportunity cost of conserving habitat (via supply-side approaches that divert oil palm cultivation away from forests) and enhance the realisable value of orangutan habitat (by capitalising on the demand for non-market values such as carbon storage). It is concluded that the former group of strategies are likely to have limited effect on curtailing deforestation, but with the right institutional policies in place they can act as stopgaps while strategies involving carbon financing and payments for biodiversity develop sufficiently to render habitat retention financially competitive.
Keyword Conservation
Land use
Oil palm
Opportunity cost
Public goods
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Economics Publications
Ecology Centre Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 33 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 51 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 20 Apr 2009, 01:28:37 EST by Kaelene Matts on behalf of Faculty of Business, Economics & Law