Reconciling the expansion of oil palm plantations and the conservation of Endangered grey parrots

Ifeanyi Maxwell Ezenwa

The expansion of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations is a major threat to biodiversity in the tropics and finding ways to reconcile the demands of a growing human population with biodiversity conservation is a central challenge for sustainable development. Nigeria’s Trade and Investment Ministry recently announced plans to create an additional three million hectares of oil palm estate by 2027. This expansion threatens the remaining habitat for Endangered African grey parrots, which have suffered dramatic population declines due to habitat loss and trapping. There is anecdotal evidence that careful development of oil palm plantations could minimise negative impacts for parrots and other large frugivorous birds. This project will work with a range of government, community and business stakeholders to research and develop strategies for land sparing (avoiding areas of high conservation value) and land sharing (retaining key resources for parrots within oil palm landscapes) approaches to commercial palm oil production. We will investigate and compare patterns of habitat use in oil palm production systems, and adjoining forest areas to understand how parrots use oil palm landscapes at multiple spatial scales to develop recommendations for sustainable strategies for oil palm production in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.