Agroforestry with oil palm

Conversion of tropical forests to oil palm monocultures leads to dramatic losses of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Agroforestry systems with multiple native tree species might have a positive ecological impact in oil palm-dominated landscapes.

Together with Prof. Holger Kreft and Prof. Dirk Hölscher (Göttingen University), my aim is to address the effects of tree planting and natural regeneration in oil palm plantations on biodiversity, ecosystem functions and resilience, and to analyze socioeconomic and ecological trade-offs.

To achieve this goal, I coordinate and integrate inter-disciplinary research activities in the Biodiversity Enrichment Experiment in Oil Palm Plantations in Indonesia (EEForTS-BEE). The experiment is part of the largest network of biodiversity experiments worldwide (TreeDivNet).

In the first years, I analyzed in detail the effect of tree diversity on vegetation structure and productivity at multiple spatial scales using terrestrial laser scanner (Fig. 1) and traditional inventories (Fig. 2). See here the publications.

I am currently analyzing the effect of mixed-species tree planting on multi-trophic diversity and multi-functionality, using data gathered by more than 20 researchers and students on environment (soil, vegetation structure, landscape matrix), ecosystem functions (from decomposition to micro-climate stability), above- and below-ground biodiversity (from birds to soil micro-organisms), and socio-economics.

Fig.1: View from a terrestrial laser scanner 3 years after establishement of the experiment. (See: Zemp et al., Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment, 2019)
Fig. 2: Measuring tree growth. (See: Zemp et al., Journal of Applied Ecology, 2019)




Funding (2016 – 2019):



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