Agroforestry and biodiversity conservation go hand-in-hand

It’s official: agroforestry systems that are rich in species as well as multifunctional landscapes can support biodiversity conservation. This is the message highlighted in a new policy brief by the ASB Programme of the World Agroforestry Centre.

Co-existence of people and orangutan in Sumatra. Stabilising gradients for landscape multifunctionality is based on research conducted in the Batang Toru landscape in Sumatra, Indonesia by ASB in cooperation with PanEco/YEL and the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).

The landscape of Batang Toru provided an ideal case study for this research into how ‘command and control’ conservation approaches tend to create sharp distinctions between protected areas and surrounding agriculture. It is home to a genetically unique Sumatran orangutan population and to people of diverse backgrounds.

The researchers asked: Can a village–agroforest–forest landscape gradient be stable? Or is it part of a continuous process of forest conversion that in the end will leave hardly any conservation values intact? The policy brief provides insight into the types of government policy and market-based instruments that are needed to stabilise the existing gradient. It also discusses their wider implications for stabilizing tropical forest margins.

A full report of the fieldwork is available as: Tata MH, van Noordwijk M, Mulyoutami E, Rahayu S, Widayati A and Mulia R. 2010. Human livelihoods, ecosystem services and the habitat of the Sumatran orangutan: Rapid assessment in Batang Toru and Tripa. Project Report. Bogor, Indonesia. World Agroforestry Centre – ICRAF, SEA Regional Office. 136 p.

Also, see our web story: Forest investment a win win for communities, climate and orangutans

The study was part of a comprehensive study of Orangutans and the economics of sustainable forest management in Sumatra by UNEP:

Photo courtesy of UNEP, Perry van Duijnhoven'

Kate Langford

Kate Langford is a consultant writer with close to 20 years’ experience in communicating natural resource, environmental and land management issues for various government and non-government organizations. She previously worked as Communications Specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and has worked in Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Scientific Communication.

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