Understanding diversity of smallholder agro-forestry and forestry systems in hilly and mountainous landscapes: Regional comparisons in Asia
Understanding diversity of smallholder agro-forestry and forestry systems in hilly and mountainous landscapes: Regional comparisons in Asiawca2014-LA-042 Kiran Asher1,* Peter Cronkleton 2 Louis Putzel3 1 CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia
Agroforestry systems and forests play an important role in providing or supplementing the livelihoods of small holders living on sloping lands. Given this importance, smallholders manage these systems in ways that sustain their livelihoods and the biophysical and ecological integrity of these lands. These groups are also targets of various development interventions to promote forestry and agro-forestry, usually for the purpose of increasing ecosystem services and goods for people living elsewhere. While often sophisticated in terms of attention to the ecological characteristics of agro/forestry systems, these policies are not sufficiently attentive to the sociocultural and political economic context within which smallholders operate. Furthermore, “smallholders” are not an unitary group. Rather, they are as diverse in terms of their needs, characteristics, motivations, and management practices as the agroforestry systems they depend upon. In more remote hilly and mountainous regions far from central authority, dominant national cultures and prime agricultural land, this diversity is even more pronounced. In this paper we draw on social science tools and methods to understand the diversity of smallholders and especially their agroforestry management practices. This understanding provides key insights to analyze incentives and restrictions governing projects targeting sloping lands for environmental interventions to improve, for example, soil and water management. We will draw on cases from overviews prepared by colleagues in seven Asian countries. In our synthesis of these cases we argue that the use of social science methods and the inclusion of social scientists on multidisciplinary teams would allow policy interventions to be better adapted to the conditions and needs of heterogeneous populations.