Repository logo

Riparian buffers can help mitigate biodiversity declines in oil palm agriculture

Published version



Change log


Deere, Nicolas J 
Bicknell, Jake E 
Mitchell, Simon L 
Afendy, Aqilah 
Baking, Esther L 


Agricultural expansion drives biodiversity decline in forested tropical regions. Consequently, it is important to understand the conservation value of remnant forest in production landscapes. In a tropical landscape dominated by oil palm we characterized faunal communities across eight taxa occurring within riparian forest buffers, which are legally protected alongside rivers, and compared them to nearby recovering logged forest. Buffer width was the main predictor of species richness and abundance, with widths of 40-100 m on each side of the river supporting broadly equivalent levels of biodiversity to logged forest. However, width responses varied markedly among taxa, and buffers often lacked forest-dependent species. Much wider buffers than are currently mandated are needed to safeguard most species. The largest biodiversity gains are achieved by increasing relatively narrow buffers. To provide optimal conservation outcomes in tropical production landscapes we encourage policymakers to prescribe width requirements for key taxa and different landscape contexts.



Journal Title

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Ecological Society of America
Newton-Ungku Omar Fund (grants 216433953, 537134717) – delivered by the British Council and funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology – as well as the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NE/K016407/1, NE/K016261/1; MJS was supported by a Research Leadership Award from the Leverhulme Trust.