Transformation of rainforest to monoculture production systems is associated with a strong decline in biodiversity and ecological functions, however, these monoculture production systems are socioeco-nomically more valuable than rainforests, resulting in ecological-socioeconomic trade-offs.
Differences in management or ecological setting of rubber and oil palm plantations have both additive and interactive effects on ecological and socioeconomic functions, resulting in non-linear relationships and both synergies and trade-offs among and between functions.
Enrichment of oil palm plantations by planting of indigenous multi-purpose trees and reduced-input oil palm management mitigate the ecological-socioeconomic trade-offs that are associated with the trans-formation of tropical lowland forest to oil palm monoculture.
Focus 1 intensively worked on an interdisciplinary manuscript on socioeconomic-ecological trade-offs of land-use transitions in Jambi Province. The resulting publication (Grass et al. in press, Nat Comm) brings together researchers from clusters A, B, C and Z and provides an in-depth analysis of the non-linear relationships between land-use transitions of smallholders from forest and jungle rubber to rubber monocultures and oil palm monocultures, and trade-offs with biodiversity, ecosystem functions and profits of farmers. Land-use transitions can enhance the livelihoods of smallholder farmers but potential economic-ecological trade-offs remain poorly understood. We find widespread biodiversity-profit trade-offs resulting from land-use transitions from forest and agroforestry systems to rubber and oil palm monocultures, for 26,894 aboveground and belowground species and whole-ecosystem multidiversity (Fig. 1).
Despite variation between ecosystem functions profit gains come at the expense of ecosystem multifunctionality, indicating far-reaching ecosystem deterioration. We identify landscape compositions that can mitigate trade-offs under optimal land-use allocation but also show that intensive monocultures always lead to higher profits (Fig. 2). These findings suggest that, to reduce losses in biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, changes in economic incentive structures through well-designed policies are urgently needed.
As a follow-up Focus 1 will compare the data on different oil palm systems (smallholder, estate, upland vs. riparian), oil palm management strategies (EFForTS-OPMX) and oil palm biodiversity enrichment (EFForTS-BEE) gathered by the CRC in the past two phases, to identify best management practices that mitigate economic-ecological trade-offs. In addition, Focus 1 will play a major role in synthesizing local findings on the social, economic and ecological functions of tropical rainforest transformation systems within the framework of the novel Landscape Assessment.