Rare bat found in oil palm plantation's oasis

November 8, 2010
Rare bat found in oil palm plantation's oasis
© ZSL / Matt Struebig

(PhysOrg.com) -- The discovery of a rare bat species in a tiny fragment of rainforest surrounded by an oil palm plantation has demonstrated that even small areas of forest are worth saving.

This first record of the Ridley’s leaf-nosed bat in Sumatra follows the publication of a paper in Conservation Letters that suggests retaining forest fragments within oil palm plantations is not an effective strategy for protecting wildlife.

Conservationists from ZSL, Queen Mary, University of London and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE – University of Kent) discovered the Ridley’s leaf-nosed bat in a 300ha fragment of forest during a biodiversity survey in West Sumatra, Indonesia.

Amongst many other species found by the biodiversity survey were sunbear, tapir, agile gibbon and banded langur, all of which are also of conservation concern.

Sophie Persey, ZSL Biodiversity and Oil Palm Project Manager says, “Protecting large areas of connected forest will always be a priority for wildlife conservation, but if ambitious future plans for oil palm expansion are realised, conserving forest fragments within oil palm landscapes will also be important for maintaining Indonesia’s biodiversity.”

To meet the Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil relating to biodiversity, member palm oil producers have to identify High Conservation Values within their concession, or that could be affected by their operations, and then implement measures to maintain and enhance these values.

The area surveyed in Sumatra is currently managed as a conservation area by the palm oil company, limiting the impact of logging and encroachment on the forest fragment.

“The finding of this survey suggests that a network of forest fragments may be appropriate for some species of high concern. The scientific community needs to continue to support the business community to find ways in which our threatened wildlife can persist in these managed areas over the long-term,” says Dr Matthew Struebig of Queen Mary, University of London and DICE, who led the survey.

The progress and future of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certification scheme will be discussed at the upcoming 8th Annual Roundtable Conference, starting on Monday 8 November in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Explore further: Palm oil putting orangutans at risk

Related Stories

Palm oil putting orangutans at risk

October 22, 2007

Conservationists meeting at the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago say growing demand for palm oil is putting Sumatran orangutans at risk of extinction.

Biofuels and biodiversity don't mix, ecologists warn

July 9, 2008

Rising demand for palm oil will decimate biodiversity unless producers and politicians can work together to preserve as much remaining natural forest as possible, ecologists have warned. A new study of the potential ecological ...

Scientist warns that palm oil development may threaten Amazon

March 24, 2009

Oil palm cultivation is a significant driver of tropical forest destruction across Southeast Asia. It could easily become a threat to the Amazon rainforest because of a proposed change in Brazil's legislation, new infrastructure ...

Recommended for you

Herbicides can't stop invasive plants. Can bugs?

August 31, 2016

Over the past 35 years, state and federal agencies have spent millions of dollars and dumped untold quantities of herbicides into waterways trying to control the invasive water chestnut plant, but the intruder just keeps ...

Smarter brains are blood-thirsty brains

August 30, 2016

A University of Adelaide-led project has overturned the theory that the evolution of human intelligence was simply related to the size of the brain—but rather linked more closely to the supply of blood to the brain.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.