Sustainable Oil Palm in Indonesia

Indonesia - Road through oil palm landscape

Oil palm plantations are making a significant contribution to the ongoing disappearance of Indonesia's tropical forests and the unique assembly of species that call them home. However, the palm oil they produce is extremely profitable, meaning the stakes are high for both the industry and the diverse ecosystems that are under threat. ZSL’s Biodiversity and Oil Palm project is working to develop practical guidance that can assist the palm oil industry to reduce the impact it has on the rich wildlife and ecosystems in Indonesia.

Why we are there

There is little doubt that the expansion of oil palm plantations in Indonesia has played a leading role in the destruction of vast areas of rich tropical forest in Indonesia, which has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. This is of enormous conservation concern as these forests are home to an extraordinary variety of species, from the Sumatran tiger to the rhinoceros hornbill, many of which are unique to Indonesia. While palm oil is important for the economy, expansion cannot continue if this is at the cost of Indonesia's natural ecosystems. It is vital that oil palm industry moves forward in a sustainable way. 

Key achievements and goals

ZSL has been awarded a grant from the Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Programme to work with the palm oil industry and the RSPO to develop an effective tool for assessing biodiversity in and around oil palm plantations that is compatible with the RSPO's Biodiversity Criteria.  ZSL, with support from partners, has launched the Sustainable Palm oil Platform (SPP), the first resource centre for information about sustainable palm oil that provides all stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain with the knowledge and tools they need to pursue more sustainable business practices.


Project information

Key species

Sumatran Tiger, Critically Endangered


People involved

Michal Zrust is managing ZSL’s Oil Palm project in Indonesia

Partners and sponsors

WCS Indonesia; Wilmar International

Kindly funded by: Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Programme (BACP); Wilmar International; Tesco Charity Trust