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Migration, Settlement and Deforestation in Sumatra

On the island of Sumatra, deforestation has no doubt been taking place on some scale for centuries, but during the Twentieth Century this process accelerated markedly. At no time, however, was the process so intense--and in many areas comprehensive--as during the late 1980s and early 1990s, though documentation from the period is largely lacking. The first two texts and the maps below came out of research carried out as part of the Spontaneous Transmigration Project, a study financed by the World Bank and implemented by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and ORTOM (now IRD, Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération). The study, in South Sumatra Province, was the first to focus on migratory flows independent of the government-run Transmigration program. On the basis of SPOT satellite imagery indicating ongoing deforestation on an unprecedented scale, a series of field studies were undertaken in frontier settlements in various stages of development. The deforestation was due largely to land colonization by smallholders and land clearing by agro-industrial concerns primarily for the establishment of oil-palm plantations. Published in 1993 and 1999, the texts draw on field observations from June 1990 to February 1991. The phenomena described in these papers was part of a general (and in places still ongoing) transformation of Sumatra's forests, experienced from Lampung in the south to Aceh in the north.

- Smith, Glenn. 1999. Migrants in South Sumatra's Forests: Development Pioneers or Destructive Interlopers? Pp. 417-428 in Serge Bahuchet, Daniel Bley, Hélène Pagezy and Nicole Vernazza-Licht, eds, L'homme et la forêt tropicale. Châteauneuf de Grasse: Editions du Bergier. [download pdf13mb]

- Smith, Glenn and Hélène Bouvier. 1993. Spontaneous Migrant Strategies and Settlement Processes in the Plains and Mountains pp. 101-185, 356-373 in Charras, Muriel and Marc Pain, eds., Spontaneous Settlements in Indonesia: Agricultural Pioneers in Southern Sumatra. Paris: ORSTOM-CNRS. [download pdf4.22mb]

Maps of Land Use in South Sumatra (partial) 1969-1986. From Plate 5: Constraints on and Evolution of Land Use in Charras, Muriel and Marc Pain, eds., Spontaneous Settlements in Indonesia: Agricultural Pioneers in Southern Sumatra. Paris: ORSTOM-CNRS. Cartography by Frédéric Durand (LASEMA). [download 1969 map pdf large file 15.19mb] [download 1986 map pdf large file 16.69mb] [download map key pdf3.25mb]

 see also:

- Clock Ticking for Indonesian Rainforest (and two other articles)

- Indonesia on the Edge of an Environmental Disaster, Says Walhi

- Three Decades of Deforestation in Southwest Sumatra (David L.A. Gaveau, Hagnya Wandono, Firman Setiabudi)

- At Loggerheads: Agricultural Expansion, Poverty Reduction, and Environment in the Tropical Forests (World Bank, October 2006)