An extensive study led by a researcher at Lund University in Sweden has mapped the effects of small farmers on the rain forests of Southeast Asia for the first time. The findings are discouraging, with regard to environmental impact, biodiversity and the economy, over the long term.
Until now, studies of this kind have always focused largely on large-scale palm oil producers and how they exploit the forest and soil. Now Yann Clough, a researcher at the Faculty of Science at Lund University, has mapped the choice of trees and agricultural methods of small-scale Indonesian farmers. Together with over 40 researchers from Germany, Indonesia, Switzerland and New Zealand, he has assessed the biodiversity and ecosystem functions in natural forest, in traditional agroforests and in monocultures of palm oil and rubber trees; the data measured includes amongst others forest growth, soil fertility and carbon storage. Furthermore, the team interviewed 450 small scale farmers to better understand why they chose to cultivate only oil palms or rubber trees and how this affects their economy.
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