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What is the Project About?

In 2021, we partnered with the Sabah-based research facility, South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP), and University of Oxford scientists to conduct an independent assessment to determine the effectiveness of our HCV monitoring efforts across our operations. This review referenced 12 years of archived data collected during monthly bird diversity surveys by Musim Mas monitoring teams at our operational units across Indonesia.

This project provided a biodiversity baseline for our HCV areas and will support our efforts to set measurable objectives to avoid species loss and improve biodiversity at our plantations. It also highlighted the importance of establishing standard definitions for habitat types, drawing guidance from a single taxonomic authority, and consolidating all digitized data for species.

These recommendations will support Musim Mas in improving our internal practices and will be helpful for the entire palm oil industry’s conservation efforts. In February 2023, we shared our findings with the RSPO to develop a broader understanding and help with the adoption of biodiversity best practices within the industry.

Key Findings From Searrp's Biodiversity Assessment

Bird species biodiversity Bird species biodiversity varied across plantations, remaining stable in some, and rising or falling in others
The benefits of consistent and intensive wildlife management The plantations with the most intensive, consistent wildlife management programs had the biggest impact on biodiversity
Benefits for RTE species The number of RTE species reflected biodiversity in a given area: the more biodiverse, the greater the number of RTE species
Monitoring protocols The best monitoring programs use consistent, stable protocols and regular data analysis to optimize their effectiveness

What Our Stakeholders Have to Say?

Commentary by Glen Reynolds,


South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP)

As an RSPO-certified company, Musim Mas has identified and set aside the required HCV areas and implemented monitoring measures. Impressively, for a plantation company, they began implementing HCVlinked recommendations from SEARRP’s scientific programs (which were previously presented to the RSPO Biodiversity and High Conservation Values Working Group) before our engagement. These recommendations are specifically aimed at improving biodiversity in plantation landscapes. The logical extension of these efforts is implementing a robust monitoring and assessment program to understand whether these ‘enhanced’ HCV approaches have yielded the expected biodiversity impacts and benefits. This is why we entered into a one-year partnership with Musim Mas.

This project is a unique opportunity for SEARRP and our research scientists; we have access to Musim Mas’ comprehensive dataset comprising up to 10 years’ worth of the company’s biodiversity and monitoring programs. This data has been generated across multiple research plots from Musim Mas’ HCV areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan and measures several crucial parameters, including comprehensive information on bird diversity.

Ideally, our next step would be conducting experiments that shed further light on managing biodiversity in a production landscape. It would be fascinating to test what additional interventions can most effectively improve biodiversity. Conservation and sustainability projects need more examples of best practice. SEARRP is keen to work with Musim Mas and other plantation companies to leverage the enormous quantity of data collected for certification and find new ways to analyze and use existing and future data to directly inform management and conservation best practices. The program has the potential to influence future policies and procedures and serve as the basis of a reliable case study for all RSPO members.

About: SEARRP facilitates world-class scientific research addressing the tropics’ major environmental issues: plantation development, habitat restoration, and climate change. SEARRP is based in Sabah’s Danum Valley, works with international universities and local partners to facilitate research by individual scientists, and manages a suite of large-scale field experiments. Since Q2 2021, the SEARRP team has worked with senior Musim Mas teams in Singapore and Medan on this conservation assessment.