ESSIC post-doctoral associate Praveen Noojipady co-authored a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article provides novel insight into how voluntary corporate sustainability policies can conserve tropical forests. The study’s authors estimate that sustainability certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) significantly reduced deforestation in Indonesian plantations — but that the actual area conserved was surprisingly small. These findings demonstrate the potential value of certification as a tool for conservation, while highlighting what changes are necessary to improve on-the-ground impacts. “Because palm oil companies have initially chosen to certify well-established plantations containing relatively few remaining forests, certification currently benefits less than one percent of the forests within Indonesian oil palm plantations,” said Dr. Kimberly Carlson, lead author of the study who is based at the University of Hawaii.