This month’s cover image by Robin Hayward (University of Stirling) shows a conservation set-aside within a large oil palm plantation in Sabah, Borneo. Sarah Scriven (University of York), lead author of the corresponding article, Testing the benefits of conservation set-asides for improved habitat connectivity in tropical agricultural landscapes, tells us more about the story behind the photograph.

The cover image shows a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified oil palm plantation in the foreground, with a patch of forest that has been designated as a High Conservation Value Area (HCVA). Conservation set-asides like this one are often in unplantable areas on relatively steep terrain or are conserved because they are important for biodiversity. In our computational study, we find that if conservation set-asides across Borneo contain good-quality forest, they can potentially provide connectivity benefits for a range of forest species as they facilitate movement of species through these fragmented plantation landscapes.

Sarah is working as part of the SEnSOR (Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Oil Palm Research) programme, which aims to quantify the impact of the RSPO on biodiversity conservation.

All photos: Robin Hayward