Lambusango forest, Buton, Indonesia, houses the endemic and rare fauna species of Anoa (Bubalus depressicornis). It is also an important site for NTFP extraction. The most important NTFP is rattan cane (Calamus and Daemonorops), which is a common material for furniture and handicraft industries. The extraction has long taken place and is entirely manual harvesting of wild rattan canes by local villagers. With growing concerns about deforestation and forest encroachment in the tropics, NTFP extraction has been conceived as a means to balance forest conservation with the needs of local economies. However, the sustainability of rattan cane harvesting in Lambusango forest is unknown. This research assesses the extent of forest disturbance in Lambusango and its major forest-based livelihood activity: rattan cane harvesting. Assessments are undertaken to investigate the key factors affecting harvesting levels and to determine whether the current practice is sustainable. Sustainability assessments take into account resource sustainability, impacts on forest structure and economic importance to the harvesters. Forest loss to agricultural uses has mostly taken place in the forest peripheries while the core forest area shows much less change than other zones and there has also been some regeneration. The study area shows levels of woody biomass within the common range of tropical rainforests. Effects of natural factors on rattan plants and forest vegetation were assessed. Abundance and distribution of rattans are not influenced by natural factors of slope and light regime while soil pH has an effect on abundance of Calamus ornatus. It was found that tree species richness and diversity are affected primarily by topographical factors and the woody biomass and size of trees are slightly affected by soil factors. There is no significant evidence of an association between variations in tree and vegetation structure and variations in rattan abundance and presence. Harvest quantity is affected by natural factors such as terrain and accessibility, although they become less influential where the resource is abundant. Forestry laws enforced through the designated forest zone system (kawasan hutan) do not significantly affect levels of harvesting. Demographic and socioeconomic factors only marginally influence the economic importance of cane harvesting. There is some indication that more profitable, more intensive and less rigorous livelihood activities are favoured by some harvesters, making them less rattan dependent. Harvesting was found to impact understorey vegetation density and tree regeneration. A combination of natural competition and anthropogenic factors adversely affect tree-stem density. Maintaining a low level of harvesting can ensure resource sustainability. Two conceptual scenarios for the future of cane harvesting in Lambusango forest are discussed: sustainable harvesting and non-forest-based livelihoods. With a long-standing and important forest extraction activity such as rattan cane harvesting, sustainable harvesting is one pathway that can contribute to local livelihoods. Because evidence showed that only minimal impacts have occurred on forest structure and a sustainable harvest level can be maintained, efforts towards sustainable practice should be supported. Sustainable rattan cane extraction may work in combination with the ongoing efforts for sustainable management of Lambusango forest, such as those initiated by Lambusango Forest Conservation Programme (LFCP) and other potential schemes such as development of rattan agroforestry, certified NTFP and incentive-based mechanisms for forest protection.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 23 Mar 2010|