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Retaining forest patches along streams in palm oil plantations is good for fishes

08 / 10 / 2015, Mongabaycom News

Oil-palm plantations along streams reduce fish diversity. Photo by Daisy Wowor.[/caption] Palm oil plantations often wreak havoc on biodiversity. But researchers may now have hit upon a win-win solution that allows freshwater fish to thrive in streams within palm oil plantations. Retaining forest patches — even narrow ones — along streams (also called riparian reserves) in palm oil plantations can be effective in conserving aquatic biodiversity, a recent study published in Conservation Biology has found. “To the best to my knowledge, this is the first study that investigated the impact of oil palm cultivation on freshwater fish communities, and the ability of riparian reserves to mitigate this impact,” Xingli Giam, lead author of the study who is now at the University of Washington, told Mongabay. Within a 14,445-hectare palm-oil dominated landscape in Central Kalimantan in Indonesia, Giam and his colleagues assessed freshwater fish biodiversity in two kinds of streams: those that had riparian reserves along them, and those that did not. These riparian reserves included “selectively logged and secondary forests that have been retained along tributaries,” the authors write. Streams with (a) community forest riparian reserve, (b) logged forest riparian reserve. Photo by Daisy Wowor.[/caption] The team found that streams that lacked riparian reserves had 36 percent fewer freshwater fish species than streams that had the reserves along them. So “there exists a clear strategy — retaining riparian reserves — that is effective in conserving fish communities,” Giam said. “By retaining riparian reserves,…

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