Tree islands enhance biodiversity and functioning in oil palm landscapes

In the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration1, large knowledge gaps persist on how to increase biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in cash crop-dominated tropical landscapes2. Here, we present findings from a large-scale, 5-year ecosystem restoration experiment in an oil palm landscape enriched with 52 tree islands, encompassing assessments of ten indicators of biodiversity and 19 indicators of ecosystem functioning. Overall, indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, as well as multidiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality, were higher in tree islands compared to conventionally managed oil palm. Larger tree islands led to larger gains in multidiversity through changes in vegetation structure. Furthermore, tree enrichment did not decrease landscape-scale oil palm yield. Our results demonstrate that enriching oil palm-dominated landscapes with tree islands is a promising ecological restoration strategy, yet should not replace the protection of remaining forests.
© The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Nature, 2023, available online at: . Keywords: biodiversity; ecosystem ecology; ecosystem services; restoration ecology; tropical ecology.
Zemp, D.C., Guerrero-Ramirez, N., Brambach, F. et al. Tree islands enhance biodiversity and functioning in oil palm landscapes. Nature 618, 316–321 (2023).