The Indonesian state forest managers have accepted farmer-managed coffee agroforestry in their estates as part of their social forestry program. Access by local farming communities to state-owned plantation forestry supports public motivation to maintain forest cover. However, balancing the expectations and needs of forest managers with those of the local farming communities is not easy. Coffee yields in Indonesia are lower than those of neighboring countries, suggesting that there is scope for improvement. Here we describe an experimental research platform developed through an international collaboration between the Universitas Brawijaya (UB), the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH), and smallholder coffee farmers to explore options for improving pine-coffee agroforestry systems within existing regulations. Located in a former state-owned pine production forest on the slopes of the stratovolcano, Mount Arjuna, in the Malang Regency of East Java, the research platform has seven instrumented research plots (40 × 60 m2), where agronomic practices can be trialed. The aim of the platform is to support the development of sustainable agronomic practices to improve the profitability of coffee agroforestry and thus the livelihood of low-income rural communities. Current trials are focused on improving coffee yields and include pine canopy trimming, fertilizers, and coffee pruning trials, with links to the development of socio-economic and environmental models. Whilst it is too early to assess the full impacts on yields, a survey of farmers demonstrated a positive attitude to canopy pruning, although with some concern over labor cost. The initial ecosystem modelling has highlighted the benefits of coffee agroforestry in balancing environmental and economic benefits. Here we provide a detailed description of the site, the current trials, and the modelling work, with the hope of highlighting opportunities for future collaboration and innovation.
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