Rattan cane is an important non-timber forest product (NTFP) harvested from Indonesian tropical forests. However, the extraction of NTFPs such as rattan cane may conflict with forest conservation efforts. A better understanding of harvesting practices can help assess the extent of this conflict and guide forest management decisions. This study assesses the accessibility factors that influence rattan cane harvesting levels in Lambusango Forest, Buton Island, Indonesia, and whether the harvesting of rattan cane is affected by the designation of conservation areas. To this end, the analysis adopts participatory mapping, Geographic Information Systems and a questionnaire survey and employs multiple regressions and analysis of covariance. The results show that accessibility, particularly slope and distance, can play a role in the quantity of rattan cane harvested. However, the presence of conservation forest does not significantly affect rattan cane harvesting levels. This could be due to limited awareness of the harvesters going to the vicinity of the designated conservation areas and mixed sentiments towards conservation efforts due to the long tradition of forest dwelling and harvesting activities. The study concludes that the successful establishment and management of conservation areas require consideration of the specificity of the local context such as the abundance of forest resources, accessibility and historical forest-people interactions, in addition to biological factors.