Oil palm cultivation can be expanded while sparing biodiversity in India

Umesh Srinivasan, Nandini Velho, Janice Ser Huay Lee, Davide Danilo Chiarelli, Kyle Frankel Davis, David S. Wilcove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


India is the world’s largest consumer and importer of palm oil. In an aggressive push towards self-sufficiency in vegetable oils, the Indian government is prioritizing the rapid expansion of domestic oil palm plantations to meet an expected doubling in palm oil consumption in the next 15 years. Yet the current expansion of oil palm in India is occurring at the expense of biodiversity-rich landscapes. Using a spatially explicit model, we show that at the national scale India appears to have viable options to satisfy its projected national demand for palm oil without compromising either its biodiversity or its food security. At finer spatial scales, India’s oil palm expansion needs to incorporate region-specific contingencies and account for trade-offs between biodiversity conservation, climate change, agricultural inputs and economic and social security. The policy decisions that India takes with respect to oil palm can substantially reduce future pressures to convert forests to oil palm plantations in the tropics globally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-447
Number of pages6
JournalNature Food
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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