Ecological and socio-economic functions across tropical land use systems after rainforest conversion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Tropical lowland rainforests are increasingly threatened by the expansion of agriculture and the extraction of natural resources. In Jambi Province, Indonesia, the interdisciplinary EFForTS project focuses on the ecological and socio-economic dimensions of rainforest conversion to jungle rubber agroforests and monoculture plantations of rubber and oil palm. Our data confirm that rainforest transformation and land use intensification lead to substantial losses in biodiversity and related ecosystem functions, such as decreased above-and below-ground carbon stocks. Owing to rapid step-wise transformation from forests to agroforests to monoculture plantations and renewal of each plantation type every few decades, the converted land use systems are continuously dynamic, thus hampering the adaptation of animal and plant communities. On the other hand, agricultural rainforest transformation systems provide increased income and access to education, especially for migrant smallholders. Jungle rubber and rubber monocultures are associated with higher financial land productivity but lower financial labour productivity compared to oil palm, which influences crop choice: smallholders that are labour-scarce would prefer oil palm while land-scarce smallholders would prefer rubber. Collecting long-term data in an interdisciplinary context enables us to provide decision-makers and stakeholders with scientific insights to facilitate the reconciliation between economic interests and ecological sustainability in tropical agricultural landscapes.


  • Jochen Drescher
  • Katja Rembold
  • Kara Allen
  • Philip Beckschäfer
  • Damayanti Buchori
  • Heiko Faust
  • Anas M. Fauzi
  • Dodo Gunawan
  • Dietrich Hertel
  • Bambang Irawan
  • I. Nengah S Jaya
  • Bernhard Klarner
  • Christoph Kleinn
  • Alexander Knohl
  • Martyna M. Kotowska
  • Valentyna Krashevska
  • Vijesh Krishna
  • Christoph Leuschner
  • Wolfram Lorenz
  • Ana Meijide
  • Dian Melati
  • Miki Nomura
  • César Pérez-Cruzado
  • Matin Qaim
  • Iskandar Z. Siregar
  • Stefanie Steinebach
  • Aiyen Tjoa
  • Teja Tscharntke
  • Barbara Wick
  • Kerstin Wiegand
  • Holger Kreft
  • Stefan Scheu
External organisations
  • Bogor Agricultural University
  • Jambi University
  • Tohoku University
  • Tadulako University
  • University of Göttingen
  • Center for Climate Change and Air Quality Agency for Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
  • Physical Geography


  • Agroforestry, Biodiversity and ecosystem function, Deforestation, EFForTS, Jungle rubber, Oil palm
Original languageEnglish
Article number20150275
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1694
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May 19
Publication categoryResearch