Influence of Herbicide Use in Oil Palm Plantations on Stream Water Chemistry in Sarawak

In Anthropogenic Tropical Forests: Human–Nature Interfaces on the Plantation Frontier
Chapter: 11
Book Chapter

The drastic transformation in land use from natural forest to acacia and oil palm plantations in tropical regions is an issue of some controversy. The influence of land-use change on nutrient cycling is not fully understood. In this case, stream water chemistry is one of the most useful indexes of the nutrient status of an ecosystem. We investigated stream water chemistry in different land uses: lowland forests, acacia plantations and oil palm plantations. There were significant differences in the distribution and composition of stream water chemistry among the various land uses. Ion concentrations in stream water were the lowest in lowland forests, while the highest concentrations were found in oil palm plantations, especially Cl− and K+. This seems to originate from anthropogenic sources like herbicides and fertilisers. Our results suggest that land use and its management have a large influence not only on nutrient cycling but also on the sustainability of forest ecosystems.