Eco-Certification as an incentive to conserve biodiversity in rubber smallholder agroforestry systems: A preliminary study
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World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
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Summary: Rubber agroforests managed by smallholders, a low intensity cultivation system with a forest like structure, cover more than 1 million ha in Indonesia and contribute significantly to the conservation of forest species. In the face of the rapid deforestation that is taking place in Indonesia, their importance for conservation is of fundamental importance. Rubber agroforests offer many economic advantages to smallholders, such as low development costs and minimal risks. However, they offer a smaller return on land and labor than alternative land uses, such as the monoculture of high-yielding hevea clones, oil palm, and, in areas close to urban markets, intensive food crop production. In the absence of specific incentives, there are no reasons why smallholders should forego the benefits of more profitable land uses for the sake of biodiversity conservation. This means that the conservation community must be ready to reward the services rendered by smallholders willing to conserve their agroforests instead of converting them to higher-productivity land uses.
One way of internalizing the cost of the conservation services is through eco-labeling of the products coming from the agroforests. Selling eco-labelled products at a higher than average price would increase the economic returns from the agroforests. This report examines prospects for selling eco-certified products from agroforests and the potential benefits and constraints of eco-certification.
It is concluded that using certification schemes to provide incentives for the conservation of biodiversity of smallholder agroforestry in Indonesia has good long term perspectives. It holds a significant potential of incentives, especially if timber and non-timber products can be combined and marketed to adequate buyers. However, identifying the right markets, developing linkages and forming the right institutional arrangements to handle certification will take time and will require resources.