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Oil palm plantations are large sources of nitrous oxide, but where are the data to quantify the impact on global warming?

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Oil palm plantations have rapidly expanded over the last 30 years, and now occupy 10% of the world’s permanent cropland. The growth of one of the world’s most efficient and versatile crop has alleviated poverty and increased food and energy security, but not without side effects. Losses of forest biodiversity hits the news. Although equally important, climate change issues have not reached this limelight. Data on greenhouse gas emissions associated with oil palm production is limited, especially for the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). This paper provides an overview of the data availability, and identifies knowledge gaps to steer future research to provide the data required for climate change models and more accurate international and national nitrous oxide emission accounting.

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