In the year 1985 Sumatra’s forest cover extended over 57% of the island but due to an average deforestation of 550.000 ha per year, forest cover decreased to 30% in the year 2007 (WWF w.y.). Immense landscape transformation processes were the main causes for this rapid change. While Jambi is one of Sumatra’s main rubber producing provinces (Miyamoto 2006) oil palm cultivations expanded significantly from the mid-1990s onwards (Caroko et al. 2011). In 2010, the total plantation area of oil palms reached 7.8 million ha. In Jambi alone concessions for oil palm plantations were granted for 1.1 Mio. ha in 2009 (Slette & Wiyono 2011).
Land use change is determined by a variety of different factors. Wood extraction, agricultural expansion and infrastructure development are considered as proximate causes of landscape transformation. But the list of underlying causes of diverse demographic, economic and cultural factors is manifold (Geist & Lambin, 2002). Modern socio-ecological research therefore focuses on the interdependent relations between society and nature asking how landscape transformation is affected by socio-economic factors and how changed land use patterns impact rural livelihoods.
The main objectives of the project are to identify conditions and drivers of present cultural landscape transformation and to analyse the impact of cultural landscape transformation on rural livelihoods in selected villages close to Harapan Rainforest and Bukit Duabelas National Park. The main task is to identify the asset portfolios on household level and to identify local adaptation strategies to changing conditions.
In a first step the current cultural landscape transformation processes in Sumatra are caught by a literature review. In a second step stakeholders will be identified through an up to date discourse analysis (Jakarta Post, Jambi Newspaper) on land transformation issues. To explain local land use transformation systems, villages will be selected in both research areas to conduct case studies and implement a household survey in order to understand local livelihood strategies and environmental assets of farmers. Semi-structured focus group interviews with stakeholders on village level will be applied in order to gain an in-depth understanding of landscape transformation. Finally, expert interviews with stakeholders on the regional and provincial level will be carried out.
Main research foci are:
- Socio-cultural and socio-economic drivers of current landscape transformations
- Local adaptation strategies to changing environmental conditions