PhD defence: Socio-economics of Rainforest Restoration in Sumatra, Indonesia. Economic Reliance, Land Use, and Resource Utilization

PhD defence

Nayu Nuringdati Widianingsih


Landscapes worldwide are increasingly shaped through global trade, market development, and resource exploitation. The central question motivating my research is “how do land concessions shape local livelihoods, land use practices, and utilization of valuable resources”. My research is grounded in the discipline of local people’s interaction with the environment in which they live and work. The overall aim is to advance the understanding of communities’ social and economic conditions and their utilization of - and reliance on - forest products in a changing landscape. My research presents a study of forest reliance, land use, and resource utilization of indigenous and non-indigenous communities residing within and around Hutan Harapan, the first forest restoration concession in Sumatra-Indonesia.

My research contributes to the methodological development of the Poverty and Environment (PEN) household survey, which was combined it with variables on ethnicity, land use and land concessions. It shows that PEN can be simplified and adjusted to local context and availability of resources and yet remain an excellent tool to capture rural socio-economic conditions. The simplified PEN was useful to study the semi-nomadic indigenous group and fitted a large and heterogeneous geographical area with many smaller homogenous ethnic and land use areas nested within. The results from the PEN study furthermore supported a trade chain analysis of the high-value NTFP Jernang (Daemonorops draco Blume). The thesis demonstrates that restoration of remaining rainforests needs stronger law enforcement and requires broader efforts, including the regulation of migration to forested areas. Moreover, Indonesia’s moratorium on conversion of forest should be extended to forest restoration concessions. National policies to increase oil palm production and the supply for pulp and paper industries facilitates national programs and commercial interests that will likely continue to overrule indigenous and environmental concerns.


Ida Theilade, Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), University of Copenhagen

Assessment Committee

Chair:  Thorsten Treue, Associate Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), University of Copenhagen

Anne Mette Lykke, Senior Researcher, University of Aarhus

Jürgen Pretzsch, Professor, Technische Universität Dresden

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