Photo credit: Aidan Keane
Period: August 2016 – July 2019
Funder: Darwin Initiative
Researchers: Mangara Silalahi, Tom Swinfield, Rhett D. Harrison, Freya St John, Aidan Keane
Collaborators: Burung Indonesia, PT REKI, RSPB, ICRAF, Bangor University, University of Edinburgh
Southeast Asia has the lowest proportion of remaining forest cover and highest rate of contemporary deforestation of any tropical region. Among southeast Asian countries Indonesia is the largest, both in terms of area and human population, and with over 133 M ha has the greatest extent of forest cover. Much of this has been logged (>80 M ha), but recent studies have shown that logged tropical forests harbour high levels of biodiversity and supply valuable ecosystem services. Hence, retaining these forests is a high conservation priority. However, once timber stocks have been exhausted, the business-as-usual scenario for such forests is conversion to agriculture.
Restoration of degraded tropical forests can enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as replenish timber and non-timber forest product resources. However, typically these benefits accrue over relatively long time scales and to distant stakeholders, such as urban populations, large companies or provincial and national governments. Whereas, the livelihoods options available to local people are often in direct conflict with restoration goals.
Harapan Rainforest is an Ecosystem Restoration Concession in Sumatra, Indonesia and has a 90 year license to restore 98,000 ha of logged forest. There are 228 indigenous households and thousands of recent migrant and trans-migrant households living within the concession boundary. Since 2005, 18,256 ha of the concession have been cleared for agriculture, much of it for Oil Palm which is illegal within a forest concession. In short, the problems facing forests generally in Indonesia are reflected in the situation at Harapan Rainforest.
Agroforestry offers a potential win-win scenario, providing valuable livelihood opportunities consistent with restoration objectives
Agroforestry offers a potential win-win scenario by providing valuable livelihood opportunities through land-use options that are consistent with restoration objectives. However, to realise these opportunities agroforestry options need to be adapted to meet the needs of local communities, trialled in the field and incorporated into policy on ecosystem restoration concessions.