Future climate effects on suitability for growth of oil palms in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The production of palm oil (PO) is highly profitable. The economies of the principal producers, Malaysia and Indonesia, and others, benefit considerably. Climate change (CC) will most likely have an impact on the distribution of oil palms (OP) (Elaeis guineensis). Here we present modelled CC projections with respect to the suitability of growing OP, in Malaysia and Indonesia. A process-oriented niche model of OP was developed using CLIMEX to estimate its potential distribution under current and future climate scenarios. Two Global Climate Models (GCMs), CSIRO-Mk3.0 and MIROC-H, were used to explore the impacts of CC under the A1B and A2 scenarios for 2030, 2070 and 2100. Decreases in climatic suitability for OP in the region were gradual by 2030 but became more pronounced by 2100. These projections imply that OP growth will be affected severely by CC, with obvious implications to the economies of (a) Indonesia and Malaysia and (b) the PO industry, but with potential benefits towards reducing CC. A possible remedial action is to concentrate research on development of new varieties of OP that are less vulnerable to CC.