Impacts of industrial tree plantations in Indonesia: Exploring local perceptions

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Key messages

  • Based on a survey about perceptions of industrial tree plantations of 606 respondents living in the vicinity of such plantations over three Indonesian islands, we find a clear divide, with evidence of more negative perceptions around acacia (pulp and paper) plantations in Sumatra and Kalimantan compared with those around pine (resin and timber) and teak (timber) in Java.
  • Acacia pulpwood plantations develop in more remote areas, where they contribute to opening up jobs and infrastructure; these facts are only partly acknowledged by local populations, as expectations have not been fully met. The plantations generate manynegative impacts such as deprivation of access to land for locals, environmental damage such as loss of biodiversity, and various annoyances such as dust or noise.
  • Pine and teak plantations are usually found in more developed areas and have a much longer presence in the landscape, dating from before Independence in many cases; they are therefore much less associated to negative changes, and their contributions to local development through the provision of jobs or environmental services are acknowledged.
  • Intermediary institutions have already proved their effectiveness in the Javanese context with pine and teak plantations, and could be mainstreamed with support from the government.
  • We find reasons to hope for better impacts if proper management decisions are made. For instance, companies can adapt rotation periods and involve local people early in the planning process in order to satisfy the most important needs and requests, mitigate risks of conflicts, and eventually improve local impacts.


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