Smallholder oil palm plantation sustainability assessment using multi-criteria analysis and unmanned aerial vehicles

Wong, Yong Bin; Gibbins, Chris; Azhar, Badrul; Phan, Su Shen; Scholefield, Paul ORCID:; Azmi, Reza; Lechner, Alex M.. 2023 Smallholder oil palm plantation sustainability assessment using multi-criteria analysis and unmanned aerial vehicles. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 195 (5), 577. 29, pp.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N535629JA.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (7MB) | Preview


Oil palm agriculture has caused extensive land cover and land use changes that have adversely affected tropical landscapes and ecosystems. However, monitoring and assessment of oil palm plantation areas to support sustainable management is costly and labour-intensive. This study used an unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to map smallholder farms and applied multi-criteria analysis to data generated from orthomosaics, to provide a set of sustainability indicators for the farms. Images were acquired from a UAV, with structure from motion (SfM) photogrammetry then used to produce orthomosaics and digital elevation models of the farm areas. Some of the inherent problems using high spatial resolution imagery for land cover classification were overcome by using texture analysis and geographic object-based image analysis (OBIA). Six spatially explicit environmental metrics were developed using multi-criteria analysis and used to generate sustainability indicator layers from the UAV data. The SfM and OBIA approach provided an accurate, high-resolution (~5 cm) image-based reconstruction of smallholder farm landscapes, with an overall classification accuracy of 89%. The multi-criteria analysis highlighted areas with lower sustainability values, which should be considered targets for adoption of sustainable management practices. The results of this work suggest that UAVs are a cost-effective tool for sustainability assessments of oil palm plantations, but there remains the need to plan surveys and image processing workflows carefully. Future work can build on our proposed approach, including the use of additional and/or alternative indicators developed through consultation with the oil palm industry stakeholders, to support certification schemes such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0167-6369
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: UAV, oil palm smallholder, sustainability assessment, land cover and land use, object-based image analysis, multi-criteria analysis
NORA Subject Terms: Electronics, Engineering and Technology
Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 08 Nov 2023 08:44 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...