An assessment of oil palm plantation aboveground biomass stocks on tropical peat using destructive and non-destructive methods

Kennedy Lewis*, Elisa Rumpang, Lip Khoon Kho, Jon McCalmont, Yit Arn Teh, Angela Gallego-Sala, Timothy Charles Hill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


The recent expansion of oil palm (OP, Elaeis guineensis) plantations into tropical forest peatlands has resulted in ecosystem carbon emissions. However, estimates of net carbon flux from biomass changes require accurate estimates of the above ground biomass (AGB) accumulation rate of OP on peat. We quantify the AGB stocks of an OP plantation on drained peat in Malaysia from 3 to 12 years after planting using destructive harvests supported by non-destructive surveys of a further 902 palms. Peat specific allometric equations for palm (R-2=0.92) and frond biomass are developed and contrasted to existing allometries for OP on mineral soils. Allometries are used to upscale AGB estimates to the plantation block-level. Aboveground biomass stocks on peat accumulated at similar to 6.39 +/- 1.12Mg ha(-1) per year in the first 12 years after planting, increasing to similar to 7.99 +/- 0.95Mg ha(-1) yr(-1) when a 'perfect' plantation was modelled. High inter-palm and inter-block AGB variability was observed in mature classes as a result of variations in palm leaning and mortality. Validation of the allometries defined and expansion of non-destructive inventories across alternative plantations and age classes on peat would further strengthen our understanding of peat OP AGB accumulation rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2230
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date10 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank the Director-General of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board for permission to publish these results. This study was carried out as part of a wider tropical peat research collaboration between MPOB, University of Exeter and University of Aberdeen and we would like to thank the MPOB staff and the Sarawak Oil Palm Berhard for help and support during the project. Specifically, from the Sarawak Oil Palm Berhard we would like to thank: Mr. Paul (group CEO), Mr. Chua Kian Hong (group plantation manager), Mr. Phang Seng Nam (regional plantation controller) and Mr. Sammy (Sabaju plantation manager) for being kind enough to allow this research to be carried out within their plantation and for the provision of logistical support. From MPOB we would like to thank the dedicated field technicians, Steward Saging and Ham Jonathon for their invaluable support.




Dive into the research topics of 'An assessment of oil palm plantation aboveground biomass stocks on tropical peat using destructive and non-destructive methods'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this