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Greasy Palms: Assessing the Resilience and Vulnerability of Bornean Landscapes to Agribusiness Expansion for Edible Oils and Biofuels

Lisa M. Curran

  • Professor of Tropical Resource Science and Director of the Tropical Resources Institute
  • School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University

A major challenge of sustainability science involves assessing the resilience of human-environmental systems that are experiencing multiple natural and anthropogenic perturbations that vary in rate, extent, and intensity. Curran presents a case study from tropical forests in Indonesian Borneo that documents a major perturbation to human-environmental systems—large scale and intensive land clearing for agribusiness. Economic and political drivers of oil-palm expansion are associated with global demand for timber, edible oils, and biofuel.

The effects of these land-use changes on carbon emissions, biodiversity, and forest-dependent livelihoods are assessed. Issues of land tenure, environmental justice, accountability, and transparency of governance are critical factors for evaluating private-sector behavior and long-term regional sustainability.

Thursday, April 12, 2007