EFForTS-BEE (Indonesia)

A large-scale long-term biodiversity enrichment experiment in oil palm was established as part of the DFG-funded collaborative research center EFForTS [Ecological and socio-economic functions of tropical lowland rainforest transformation systems (Sumatra, Indonesia)]. Tree islands were planted in a monoculture oil palm plantation in December 2013. The aim of the enrichment experiment is to analyse trade-offs between ecological and economic functions and to contribute to the development of ecologically improved management concepts in oil palm landscapes.

aerial view plantation
The experimental site seen from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Watit Khokthong, 2015).
Squares depict experimental plots and are drawn to scale.
The plot ID is shown at the top-right side of each plot.

The experiment consists of 52 tree islands planted in a monoculture oil-palm landscape, with a minimum distance of 85 m between them. The islands, i.e., plots, vary in tree species composition and diversity following a random partitions design. The experiment comprises four partitions that differ in plot size (5 m x 5 m, 10 m x 10 m, 20 m x 20 m, 40 m x 40 m). Each partition is divided into five blocks, one per tree diversity level (0, 1, 2, 3, and 6 species). Within each block, each species was randomly drawn from the species pool without replacement and thus selected exactly once at each diversity level. Hence, the species compositions are random and unique across all plots. Before planting, approximately 40 % of the oil palms on the plots were removed to enhance the light availability. Trees were planted with a 2-m grid spacing, and the distance between trees belonging to the same species was maximized. We planted six trees on the 5 m x 5 m plots, 25 trees on the 10 m x 10 m plots, 100 trees on the 20 m x 20 m plots and 400 on the 40 m x 40 m plots.

design EFForTS-BEE experiment
The random partition design with P for the four partitions that differ in plot size, Q the five blocks per partition, R the diversity level of the block, M the plots, and A-F the species (A Parkia speciosa, Fabaceae; B Archidendron pauciflorum, Fabaceae; C Durio zibethinus, Malvaceae; D Dyera polyphylla, Apocynaceae; E Peronema canescens, Lamiaceae; F Shorea leprosula, Dipterocarpaceae). Within a block, each species was randomly drawn from the species pool without replacement; no repetition of the species composition was allowed between plots. Trees were planted on plots with R = 1/2/3/6, but not on plots with R = 0/ctrl. There are four control plots (R ctrl, M 53-56) of the same size (10 m x 10 m), which are managed as usual. A special experimental management (stop of herbicide/pesticide/fertilizer application and stop of weeding 2 years after establishment) is applied on plots M = 1-52. The actual spatial arrangement of the plots in the plantation was random; plots were not aggregated according to partition, block, or diversity level.

Site characteristics

location Bungku village, Jambi province, Sumatra
former land use oil palm monoculture plantation
altitude 36-58 m
soil type loamy Acrisol
area 2.8 ha
no of plots 56
plot size 5 m x 5 m, 10 m x 10 m, 20 m x 20 m, 40 m x 40 m
no of trees planted 6354
planting date December 2013
diversity variables species richness
diversity gradient 0, 1, 2, 3, 6 sp.
size species pool 6
species pool Archidendron pauciflorum
Durio zibethinus
Dyera polyphylla
Parkia speciosa
Peronema canescens
Shorea leprosula
contact persons Clara Zemp
Holger Kreft
Meike Wollni
Dirk Hoelscher

Three main questions are investigated: (1) Are gap enrichment plantings a suitable measure for biodiversity enrichment in oil palm plantations? (2) Do tree islands act as nuclei for colonization of flora and fauna? (3) What are the socio-economic and ecological trade-offs?

As the experiment is now well established, interdisciplinary studies from 14 sub-projects from EFFoRTS contribute to monitor (a) the environment (soil, micro-climate, surrounding matrix), (b) plants (tree survival and growth, plant water stress, understory vegetation, seed and pollen rain, recruitment limitations, vegetation structural complexity), (c) animals (bird, bats and invertebrates community), (d) micro-organisms (prokaryotes and fungi) and (d) socio-economics (oil-palm yields, benefits from the planted trees, incentive for enrichment planting).

Innovative and advanced technologies are used including (1) unmanned aerial vehicles (fixed-wings and octacopters) equipped with visible and thermal cameras, (2) terrestrial laser scanner, (3) sound recording and night-vision devices for observation of bats and birds. In addition, extensive data will be collected from 80 temperature and humidity loggers and 1000 seed traps.

Extra information
Send an e-mail to the contact persons, explore the website of the experiment or the publications.

  • Gérard A, Wollni M, Höscher D, Irawan B, Sundawati L, Teuscher M, Kreft H (2017) Oil-palm yields in diversified plantations: Initial results from a biodiversity enrichment experiment in Sumatra, Indonesia. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 240: 253-260 - doi: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2017.02.026
  • Teuscher M, Gérard A, Brose U, Buchori D, Clough Y, Ehrbrecht M, Hölscher D, Irawan B, Sundawati L, Wollni M, Kreft H (2016) Experimental biodiversity enrichment in oil-palm-dominated landscapes in Indonesia. Frontiers in Plant Science 7: 1538 - doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01538

  • photo Nov 2016 from above photo Nov 2016 from below
    View from a drone and from the ground (Nov 2016)