Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Oil palm Research (SEnSOR)

Departments: Biology - with access for researchers across the University

Project Director: Professor Jane Hill

For more information you can visit the project homepage or contact

The Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Oil palm Research (SEnSOR) programme is an integrated multi-disciplinary research programme designed to fill key knowledge gaps in testing and developing the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria for sustainability in oil palm agriculture.

The five year programme will deliver a robust scientific evidence base for RSPO’s Principles and Criteria, strengthening the credibility of RSPO’s approach to sustainability, and thus providing benefits for People, Planet and Profit by:

  1. Creating confidence in RSPO certified palm oil for users, investors and the public.
  2. Ensuring that growers’ efforts and investments in sustainable practices are cost-effective and have market value.
  3. Safe-guarding the environment and society for the long term through the rigorous testing and development of practices which deliver significant benefits.

These knowledge gaps were identified from a RSPO-commissioned scoping study based on a comprehensive literature review, online surveys and face-to-face interviews with stakeholders and scientists. The knowledge gaps fall into five Topic Areas: 

  1. Soil and Water, 
  2. Greenhouse Gases and Air Quality, 
  3. Biodiversity, 
  4. Participatory Processes and Rights, 
  5. Livelihoods. 

These Topic Areas are integrated by three cross-cutting Key Themes:

  1. The HCV Process, 
  2. Agricultural Best Practice,
  3. Cost-Benefit Analysis. 

The research will be conducted by leading scientists from internationally renowned institutions using state-of-the-art techniques, and coordinated through the Royal Society’s SE Asia Rainforest Research Programme (SEARRP).

The SEnSOR programme will create maximum impact, locally and internationally, through effective dissemination of findings to the RSPO, stakeholders, governments and NGOs so that research output can directly inform policy and management practices – and by building scientific capacity in palm oil producing countries.

For further information a more detailed proposal can be downloaded here. - SEnSOR brochure (PDF  , 1,601kb)

SEnSOR is currently fund-raising, if you are interested in supporting the research programme; please contact Dr Glen Reynolds for further information.

Related projects

Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project

Zoological Society of London (ZSL) Biodiversity and Oil Palm Project

UK Government Research Council (NERC) Human-modified Tropical Forests Programme

Towards Environmentally Sustainable and Equitable Palm Oil social research programme run by Wageningen University

Royal Society SEARRP projects