Plantations and tree crop commodities

Plantations and tree crop commodities

Timber and high-value tree crop plantations (for example, tea, coffee, cocoa, oil palm and rubber) are rapidly expanding in the sub-tropical and tropical regions, due to growing domestic and global demand for related commodities. They contribute to land use intensification which can help globally to reduce pressures on natural forests, and they are a major source of income for more than 30 million smallholder farmers. Yet their expansion poses multiple economic, social and environmental challenges such as productivity gaps, negative environmental impacts, competition between large plantations and smallholders.

Several responses have been put in place to manage the challenges associated with the expansion of plantations, and to address performance gaps, including diversification options for production systems, production standards and certification schemes, labelling, and fair trade. Principles for responsible investment and finance have also emerged to influence large-scale plantation development, as well as several social safeguards and monitoring frameworks to reduce their potential negative impacts. The effectiveness of such solutions (and trade-offs amongst objectives) depends on the commodity value chain, the scale of production, access to resources, and the organizational capacities of producers.

This priority is helping governments (at the national and sub-national levels) and stakeholders, including smallholder farmers who are still responsible for most of the global commodity supply, to understand the available options; plan for and devise plantation systems that reduce pressures on forests; and increase the contribution of plantations to sustainable food supply, poverty alleviation, and socio-economic resilience.

Work in this area will lead to recommendations for national and sub-national governance systems aiming to improve the productivity and resilience of production systems and enabling factors for sustainable public and private investments.