New oil palm map to notify policy and landscape-level planning


IMAGE: The extent and year of detection of oil palm plantations zoomed into 4 areas: Krabi, Thailand, Johor in Malaysia, Central Kalimantan and Riau in South Sumatra, Indonesia.
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Credit: Image produced utilizing QGIS

IIASA scientists have actually utilized Sentinel 1 satellite images from the European Space Agency to produce a map of the level and year of detection of oil palm plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand that will assist policymakers and other stakeholders understand patterns in oil palm growth while likewise providing an accurate map for landscape-level planning.

The world’s cravings for palm oil seems to know no bounds. While oil palm is known to be the most effective oil producing plant internationally, yields vary dynamically with plantation stand age, management practices, and place. To this end, IIASA scientists have offered a comprehensive map of oil palm degree in 2017 using Sentinel 1 satellite images from the European Area Firm in a new paper released in Nature Scientific Data

” We specifically wanted to figure out the level and age of oil palm plantations across Southeast Asia and see if we could utilize technologies such as Google Earth Engine and information mining algorithms to produce a precise map of oil palm extent from Guard 1 radar data, which could potentially be operationalized into a near-real time oil palm detection system. In addition, we wanted to check out the possibility of using time series analysis to go backwards in time and figure out the age at which the plantation can initially be identified (i.e., when trees are around 2 to 3 years in age),” describes lead author Olga Danylo, a scientist with the IIASA Unique Information Ecosystems for Sustainability Research Study Group.

While oil palm level has been mapped in the past, this paper uses Sentinel 1 satellite information in mix with other data sets to map extent, along with time series from the Landsat archive to obtain the year of plantation detection (which is a proxy for efficient age of the plantations). Knowing the exact degree and age of plantations across a landscape is essential for landscape-level planning to allow for both sustainable oil palm production and forest preservation.

The paper’s essential output is a 30 m resolution map of Southeast Asia that shows if oil palm is present and the year of detection of the plantation – a brand new function that permits a much better understanding of oil palm growth in Southeast Asia. The oil palm level map has an overall accuracy of 83%, which is similar to other items. The biggest area of oil palm can be found in Sumatra and Kalimantan, with growths in all major areas since the year2000 The maps reveals that the biggest relative growths over the last years have actually happened in Kalimantan, insular Malaysia, and Thailand, but surprisingly, the net oil palm plantation location, omitting milling facilities, roadways, and other related facilities, may be substantially smaller than formerly thought.

According to the researchers, the brand-new map might furthermore support the calculation of quotes of greenhouse gas emissions and removals for particular regions, provide a method where official statistics can be independently validated, and might also be utilized in analyses connected to determining the economic compromises in various types of land usage. In addition, the oil palm map in mix with spatial information about estate limits could assist to determine particular stars and their adherence to environmental legislation and compliance with sustainability standards.

” Buying licensed palm oil (RSPO) is a method of preventing tropical logging. Our map can inform which websites are qualified for RSPO accreditation and it can assist policymakers such as the EU commission to make more accurate and directed policies in relation to palm oil by for instance omitting palm oil from particular (recently deforested) locations from biofuels in the EU,” concludes coauthor Johannes Pirker, a guest scientist with the Agriculture, Forestry, and Ecosystem Solutions Research Group at IIASA

The information set utilized in this paper is openly available for download from the IIASA DARE repository.

The Sentinel-1 mission comprises a constellation of 2 polar-orbiting satellites, running day and night performing C-band artificial aperture radar imaging, allowing them to obtain imagery despite the weather. Sentinel 1 satellite images is particularly important in tropical nations which are covered by clouds almost all year.



Danylo, O., Pirker, J., Lemoine, G., Ceccherini, G., See, L., McCallum, I., Hadi, Kraxner, F., Achard, F., Fritz, S. (2021). A map of the degree and year of detection of oil palm plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.


Researcher contact.

Olga Danylo.

Research Scholar.

Unique Data Communities for Sustainability Research Study Group.

Advancing Systems Analysis Program.

Tel: 432236 807248

Johannes Pirker.

Guest Research Study Scholar.

Agriculture, Forestry, and Ecosystem Solutions Research Study Group.

Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program.


Press Officer.

Ansa Heyl.

IIASA Press Office.

Tel: 432236 807574

Mob: 43676 83 807574


About IIASA:.

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is a global clinical institute that carries out research study into the crucial problems of worldwide environmental, financial, technological, and social change that we deal with in the twenty-first century. IIASA is independent and moneyed by prominent research study funding companies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. iiasa.

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