Juli 15, 2014

Perceiving and Managing Natural Resources in Kerinci, Sumatra


THE PAPER examines some of the divergences and opportunities in Kerinci, an agricultural valley with approximately 300 000 inhabitants, encircled by the Kerinci Seblat National Park, in Sumatra. The park is currently the largest zone of continuous primary forest in Sumatra, extending over 345 km along the volcanic Barisan mountain chain. The valley forest (49% of the area) fulfils a number of functions: an economic function (multiple products), a religious function (linked with the ancestral spirit), a social function, and an environmental function (reflected in the inhabitants' conservation of forest cover in order to safeguard springs and rivers). The three principal agricultural sectors are: cultivation of commercial tree crops on the hillsides (cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmanii) growing occupies 28.4% of the area); cultivation of wet rice, essentially on the valley floor; and cultivation of annual crops, which are mainly grown on the Kayu Aro plateau. 

The paper focuses on: indigenous water conservation practices, and the importance attached to protecting springs and rivers; indigenous plant classification systems; the multiple and changing functions of trees by the local community; the flexibility in their tree management systems, with particular reference to cinnamon production - cinnamon is an important cash crop also used for fuelwood, which is harvested from 5 to 25 yr old, coppices readily, and may be grown in association with other crops (e.g. coffee) at various rotations; farming systems and the options available to farmers after clearance of a forest plot - an account of the development of the ladang and the final pelak stage (a perennial mixed and multi-layered agroforest) following clearance, originating from the planting of annual crops (years 1-2), coffee (produced in years 3-8), cinnamon (harvested in years 9-15 if maintaining coffee production, years 9-25 if not) and other tree species; land occupation strategies; and the use and adaptation of agroforestry systems with regard to time and space management - a description of the structure of forest gardens made up of associations of fruit trees, leguminous trees, timber trees and cloves (Syzygium aromaticum). 

Insight on local resource-use strategies and practices contribute to the elaboration of conservation policies and regional development. Local resource users have perceptions and systems of representation and classification of the living and inert world that differ in several aspects from perceived scientific wisdom. The paper argues that recognition of these perceptions is an important step in forging effective relationships between development planners, conservation managers and local resource users.[]


Y. Aumeeruddy, “Perceiving and Managing Natural Resources in Kerinci, Sumatra”, Nature and Resources, 31, 1, (1995): 28-37.

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