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Sugar palm (Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merr.) for livelihoods and biodiversity conservation in the orangutan habitat of Batang Toru, North Sumatra, Indonesia: mixed prospects for domestication

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Domestication of desirable forest resources in agroforestry is expected to contribute to community based forest conservation efforts but there may be an optimum level of domestication in this respect. Aren or sugar palm (Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merr.) is a multipurpose tree that provides livelihoods for local people and food for other biota in the landscape. However its domestication is still limited in many places such as in Batang Toru Forest Block an area of high conservation value including habitat for the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). Options for aren management were prioritized as part of a landscape-scale conservation study by comparing domestication levels in the area. Data on economic indicators and ecological knowledge were gathered through interviews with key farmers focus groups and transect walks. Four representative villages were selected for the study that is (i) two villages with no domestication of aren; and (ii) two villages with aren cultivation in rubber-based land-use systems. Costbenefit analyses suggested that in a rich biodiversity area such as Batang Toru although aren was one of the sources of local livelihoods additional investment for domestication beyond cultivation was not an option considered by farmers. Farmers still perceived wildlife as an efficient mode of aren regeneration supported by the coexistence of people and other biota in the area. It appears the value of aren for local people's livelihoods and conservation can be enhanced by increasing its stocking density. There is also scope for improving market access and share of end-user value received by farmer
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    Martini, E.J.M.


    Natural regeneration, Enrichment, Planting, Aren, Livelihoods, Biodiversity

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