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Hum Ecol (2012) 40:315325

DOI 10.1007/s10745-012-9481-8

From Shifting Cultivation to Cinnamon Agroforestry:

Changing Agricultural Practices Among the Serampas
in the Kerinci Seblat National Park, Indonesia
Bambang Hariyadi & Tamara Ticktin

Published online: 31 March 2012

# Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Introduction In Sumatra shifting cultivation is based on rice farming

and, as has occurred globally, some systems have developed
The traditional resource management practices of many indig- to incorporate cash crops and other economically valuable
enous communities are in transition as they adapt to new social, species, forming a complex agricultural or agroforest system
economic and political realities (Cox 2000; Gmez-Baggethun (Mary and Michon 1987; Gouyon et al. 1993; Angelsen
et al. 2010). We investigate the changing shifting cultivation 1995; Burgers 2004). In the case of the Serampas, shifting
practices of the Serampas, an indigenous group whose ancestral cultivation has evolved over the past 40 years to include the
territory now lies within Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP), cultivation of cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmanii [Nees &
one of the most important protected areas in Indonesia. We T. Nees] Bl.).
address the following questions: (1) How do the Serampas There has been widespread debate about the benefits and
classify land within their shifting cultivation systems and how consequences of shifting cultivation for both local people
have land-use patterns changed over time? (2) What land tenure and the environment. Some scholars have pointed out that it
arrangements do the Serampas have and how have these makes sense both economically and environmentally for
changed over time? (3) How has Serampas shifting cultivation tropical farmers (Fox et al. 2000; Ickowitz 2006; Iskandar
as it is practiced today been transitioning into cinnamon agro- 2007; Rerkasem et al. 2009) as it employs the process of
forestry? (4) What are the potential implications of the above succession to produce resources, and can improve and con-
for conservation in KSNP? serve soil and reduce pest and weed problems (Denevan and
The Serampas inhabit the northeastern area of Jangkat Sub Padoch 1988; Alcorn 1990). In addition, the traditional
District, Merangin District, Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia ecological knowledge and resource management practices
(Fig. 1). Their name refers to both the people and the region of shifting cultivation systems can provide insight on sus-
they occupy. They are considered descendants of Minang tainable forest management (Warner 1991; Kleinman et al.
Kabau (West Sumatra) as they share some socioeconomic 1995; Berkes 2008), restoration (Douterlungne et al. 2008),
and cultural similarities (Cholif 1971). Bonatz et al. (2006) and local economic development and biodiversity conserva-
estimate that the Serampas have inhabited their current terri- tion (de Jong 1997; Pelzer 1978; Tacconi and Vayda 2006;
tory from about the eleventh to the thirteenth century AD. Rerkasem et al. 2009). At the same time however, changes
in shifting cultivation systems, including the shortening of
fallows, the incorporation of cash crops, and the influence of
B. Hariyadi (*)
Graduate School for Science Education, University of Jambi, outside capital can also have negative impacts on both the
Jambi, Indonesia environment and local people (Myers 1993; Varma 2003;
e-mail: Cramb et al. 2009; Fox et al. 2009; Rerkasem et al. 2009).
An understanding of Serampas shifting cultivation, how
T. Ticktin
Botany Department, University of Hawaii, it is adapting over time and its potential implications for
Honolulu, USA conservation is critical because of its location within the
316 Hum Ecol (2012) 40:315325

Fig. 1 Location of Serampas in the Southwestern, Sumatera, Indonesia

KSNP. This 14,847 km2 protected area (Aumeeruddy 1994), and 15 respondents from outside both villages. Respondents
established in 1999, extends into four provinces, including were selected using the snowball method, starting with the
Jambi, West Sumatra, Bengkulu and South Sumatra and kepala desa (village leader). The structured interviews were
borders nine districts, 43 sub-districts and 468 villages. carried out with 29 households, representing 1820% of the
The population in the regions bordering the park numbers total number of households in both villages. Participant
about 1.75 million (World Bank 1996). KSNPs massive observation was carried out with in homes, umo (shifting
forest coverage provides essential shelter for many endan- cultivation rice fields), sawah (irrigated rice fields), and
gered animals, notably the Sumatran rhino, Sumatran tiger, during local cultural events, such as selamatan ruso, negak
wild Sumatran goat, tapir and elephant (Departemen rumah, and kenduri psko. All fieldwork was carried out in
Kehutanan 2010). Importantly, the park contains the source Indonesian by B.H., from July 2005 to March 2006.
springs for the largest rivers in Southern Sumatra, primarily Participant observation covered much of, but not all, the
the Batang Hari, Musi and Merangin (FAO 1982), which annual cycle of Serampas shifting cultivation. The plants
irrigate million hectares of rice fields. By understanding elicited from the above methods were collected from each
land-use practices and associated knowledge and traditions village, and vouchers were identified by plant taxonomists
of traditional farmers such as the Serampas and how they at the Herbarium Bogoriense, Bogor Indonesia. Taxonomic
relate to biodiversity conservation, scientists and policy- grouping and scientific naming of the voucher was in ac-
makers can develop culturally appropriate resource manage- cordance with Index Kewensis under the International Plant
ment plans that can be compatible with conservation. Name Index available online at
Our ethnographic data for this research were collected
with informed consent, using a combination of in-depth Serampas Land Classification and Use
interviews, structured interviews and participant observa-
tion. The in-depth interviews were carried out with 51 The Serampas originally inhabited hamlets on hilltops
respondents, consisting of 15 and 21 respondents from the throughout the region (Fig. 1) and practiced shifting culti-
villages of Tanjung Kasri and Renah Kemumu respectively, vation by slashing and burning primary or secondary forests
Hum Ecol (2012) 40:315325 317

to develop umo, the upland rice-based farming system. tanarius Muell. Arg.), and kulit angin (Mallotus paniculatus
Later they sought fertile valley wetlands to develop more Mull. Arg.) (Table 1), which some actively manage.
permanent sawah, rice paddy fields. However, the valleys Rapohen is fallowed land from shifting cultivation that
were too small to meet the needs of the Serampas population regenerates into secondary forest. Serampas further divide
and they continued to rely on shifting cultivation to produce rapohen into sesap jerami (land fallowed up to four years
rice, fruit, vegetables, and spices. dominated by fast growing shrubs), blukar mudo (secondary
In Serampas today there are three main land use catego- forest on land fallowed between four and ten years), and
ries: forest, umo, and ladang kulit (cinnamon agroforest). blukar tuo (old secondary forest on land fallowed more than
Most land is covered by forests, both KSNP forests and ten years). The presence of some cultivated plants such as
community forests. Serampas recognize three different types durian in blukar tuo distinguishes it from rimbo gano.
of forests: primary forest (rimbo gano), customary forest, Villagers identify rapohen by the presence of some pioneer
and secondary forest. Some older secondary forests, usually species including molesaten (Villebrunea rubescens Bl.),
more than 30 years, are difficult to distinguish from primary semloen (Homalanthus giganteus Zoll. & Mor.), and kelu
forest. Villagers identify the rimbo gano through the pres- (Nicolaia speciosa Horan) (Table 1). Some domesticated
ence of some species that commonly grow in this type of plants are also commonly found in rapohen including durian
forest, such as surian rimbo (Toona sureni [Blume] Merr.) (Durio zibethinus Murr.), petai (Parkia speciosa Haask.),
(Table 1). and kepayang (Pangium edule Reinw.). Wild plant indica-
Customary forests that are mainly used to protect water- tors of fertility, successional stages, and seasonal changes
shed areas and most steep, forested lands prone to landslides are used also by shifting cultivators elsewhere (e.g., Allan
are termed ulu aye have been declared ulu aye. The term of 1965; Fujimoto 2009).
hutan adat (customary forest) has come to be widely used to In Serampas villages where inhabitants livelihoods de-
refer to ulu aye, especially after a KSNP initiative to pro- pend highly on shifting cultivation, umo mostly refers to
mote forest zoning in Serampas and the terms are used upland rice fields. In contrast, in villages where local live-
interchangeably to refer to the same forest type. lihoods are dominated by irrigated rice farming, the term
Serampas categorize secondary forests into sangkan and umo is commonly used to refer to both wetland and upland
rapohen. Sangkan refers to primary forest (rimbo gano) that rice fields. In these villages, people also use the term sawah
has been cleared and has regrown into secondary forest interchangeably with the umo to refer to wetland rice fields.
without having been cultivated. In many cases, lack of In this article we use umo to refer exclusively to upland rice
manpower and/or engagement in other more profitable op- farmland, and sawah to refer exclusively to irrigated farming
portunities lead to villagers leaving a piece of cleared rimbo lands.
gano to regrow into sangkan. Villagers reported that sang- Since the early 1970s, the Serampas have been incorpo-
kan is mostly dominated by fast growing species, such as rating cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmanii) into their shifting
mendarung (Trema orientalis [L.] Bl.), tutup (Macaranga cultivation. As a result, shifting cultivation sites have spread

Table 1 Plants used by the Serampas to recognize stages of forest succession

Rimbo Gano (primary forest) Sangkan (never cultivated secondary forest) Rapohen (secondary forest)

Kiro (Ficus sp., Moraceae) Narung (Trema orientalis (L.) Bl., Ulmaceae) Molesaten (Villebrunea rubescens Bl.,
Surian rimbo (Toona sureni [Blume] Tutup (Macaranga tanarius Muell. Arg., Semloen (Homalanthus giganteus Zoll. & Mor.,
Merr., Meliaceae) Euphorbiaceae) Euphorbiaceae)
Kelat (Helicia rostrata D. B. Foreman, Kulit angin (Mallotus paniculatus Mull. Mentaleten (Acalypha caturus Blume,
Proteaceae) Arg., Euphorbiaceae) Euphorbiaceae)
Bawang (Aporusa lucida [Miq.] Airy Shaw, Terap (Artocarpus elasticus, Reinw., Puar (Alpinia sp, Zingiberaceae)
Euphorbiaceae) Moraceae)
Nulang (Glochidion obscurum Blume, Lalan nasi (Zingiber sp.), Zingiberaceae Kelu (Nicolaia speciosa Horan., Zingiberaceae)
Terap (Artocarpus elasticus Reinw., Lolo (Hornstedtia spp.), Zingiberaceae
Lalan nasi (Zingiber sp.), Zingiberaceae Durian (Durio zibethinus Murr., Bombacaceae)
Manau (Calamus mannan Miq., Arecaceae) Petai (Parkia speciosa Haask., Fabaceae)
Payang (Pangium edule Reinw.,
318 Hum Ecol (2012) 40:315325

away from local settlements while the fallowed areas close worldview in which customary law constitutes just one
to the settlements have gradually shifted into mature cinna- element. From this wider perspective, adat becomes the
mon gardens. Although cinnamon is an important commod- basis not only of ethical and legal judgments, but also a
ity for Serampas and the surrounding areas, it is not possible reference point for social expectations (Abdullah 1966). In
to determine the exact area under cinnamon cultivation since Serampas, adat is used to ensure equitable distribution of
no records were kept in the local statistical office. In the land for farming as well as for housing. Households have the
District of Merangin as a whole, palm oil and rubber are the right to use the land they are allocated, but do not own it and
main agricultural commodities and the contribution of cin- cannot sell it. All abandoned land, including fallows from
namon is insignificant. However, in the neighboring district shifting cultivation, automatically becomes common prop-
of Kerinci cinnamon is one of the most important cash erty. In Serampas, the process of securing farm land is
crops. In Serampas, the total area planted with cinnamon is initiated during the wedding ceremony when local elders
included in the category of umo, In the Jangkat region and adat executives perform the ritual of ajum arah, advis-
improvement of the road connecting Serampas to the capital ing the new couple on various aspects of married life and
of the sub-district has led to greater integration into the guiding the new couple to suitable vacant land, mostly
market economy and areas of umo and horticultural crops secondary forests. Outsiders are eligible to settle on and
have increased alongside a decrease in the total area of use Serampas lands if they undertake ngisi adat, a ritual to
sawah and other crops (sweet potato, corn, cassava, and bless and culturally register a new inhabitant.
soybean) reflecting a gradual shift from subsistence farming The role of adat in controlling access to land is similar in
to low diversity cash crops, mainly potatoes and chilies other cultures in Indonesia, for example Western Sumatra
(Fig. 2) (Dendi et al. 2005; Abdoellah et al. 2006). The rate (Dendi et al. 2005). However, there is a great variation
of forest conversion to horticultural crops is very high in the among adat arrangements in terms of land tenure. In the
two Serampas villages under study and they have the least past, land tenure practices varied among Serampas villages
forest cover in the area. according to the specific context. For example, in Tanjung
Kasri village the lack of sawah means that villagers rely
Serampas Land Tenure Practices entirely on shifting cultivation for rice. To ensure that every
household acquires enough land for sustainable agriculture,
Ostrom (1985) argues that small groups of people who have the adat banned people from growing dense tree crops in
depended on moderately scarce resources over a long period their umo, thus allowing fallowed lands to regrow into
of time commonly have developed institutional systems to secondary forest and to recover fertility.1 This is similar to
manage the resource as common property. The Serampas a regulation reintroduced in Nagari Lubug Gadang and
land use categories described above are associated with Silayang in West Sumatra, which prohibits the planting of
different land tenure arrangements. With the exception is trees in some areas dedicated to shifting cultivation (Dendi
the sawah, which is treated as private property, land is et al. 2005), following a general trend of reviving traditional
controlled by adat and regarded as common property. Adat systems of governance in the region that is resulting in
is commonly translated as indigenous customary law decentralization (e.g., von Benda-Beckman and von
(Picard 1997), but it can also be understood as an entire Benda-Beckman 2001).

Total Area (ha) Recent Changes in Serampas Land-Tenure

2500 Umo
Horticulture Since cinnamon began to be more widely cultivated, land-
2000 Other Crops tenure has gradually shifted from largely common property
towards more privately-held property. Villagers use cinna-
mon stands as a claim to land entitlement allowing transfer
1000 between individuals, a practice not recognized by earlier
generations. Belcher et al. (2005) suggest that this type of
500 practice is a common strategy in forest garden systems to
bestow long-term use rights on particular land. Changes in
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
land tenure have created a few local land capitalists who
may buy cinnamon agroforest from poor households that
Fig. 2 Total farming area by land use type in Jangkat Sub District3,
Sumatra, Indonesia. (Source: Statistics Office of Merangin 19962008). 3)
Horticultural crops include potato, chili, cabbage, red kidney bean, snake According to local elders, a parcel of umo land needs to be fallowed
bean, peanut, and mungbean. Other crops include corn, soy, cassava, and for at least four years. However, in practice most villagers leave the
sweet potato lands for at least ten years before resuming cultivation.
Hum Ecol (2012) 40:315325 319

urgently need cash for basic needs or for childrens school initiate shifting cultivation by clearing secondary forests
fees. However, instead of using the term menjual (selling), (rapohen) and occasionally old growth forests (rimbo gano)
villagers refer to such transactions as ganti rugi (compensa- working in groups of three to five households, usually
tion fees for land clearing and cinnamon planting). closely related. Working in groups greatly benefits villagers
Nevertheless, to refer to this land private property is by reducing the risks of pest and wildlife attack, sharing
misleading since the land is in the KSNP and owned by labor and providing social networks in case of emergencies.
the government. A farmer usually secures a block of forested land that allows
In contrast, sawah has always been considered private for two to four phases of shifting cultivation. Given that
poverty and is passed down through generations (see also each phase takes about two years to complete, he may
Watson 1992; Neidel 2006). Sawah as well as houses are remain working on the particular forest block for four to
recognized as harta berat (heavy wealth) inherited through eight consecutive years. Since the weakening of adat some
the female line. A son will only inherit harta ringan (light villagers occupy inherited fallowed lands passed down by
wealth), which includes crops in agroforests and umo as their parents and/or inlaws.
well as tools for farming and other purposes. To identify a suitable plot for shifting cultivation, farmers
Most existing sawah were developed by early Serampas assess biophysical characteristics of the soil and vegetation.
settlers and remain the private property of their descendents, For example, flat and black soil is preferred for farming,
who generally keep the land intact. According to local whereas white and steep lands are always avoided due to
elders, the total area of sawah has remained relatively stable their lower fertility. The presence of some plants, such as
while the population of Serampas has grown. Serampas jelatang (Laportea spp.) and dadap duri (Erythrina subum-
have adopted ganti gilir (a rotational system) that regulates brans Merr.), indicate fertile land. Villagers also consider
the right to cultivate a piece of sawah among its inheritors proximity to a stream and a settlement in selecting a location
from the neighboring subdistrict. Each heir has access to for shifting cultivation and avoid cultivating fragile lands,
cultivate the land, usually once every two or three years, instead delineating such land as customary forest.
depending on the number of heirs, and they usually practice Occasionally villagers clear young secondary forest (blu-
shifting cultivation in the intervening years. kar mudo) where rumput bungo (Eupatorium inulaefolium
The ganti gilir system appears to offer a fair distribution H.B&K.) dominates the vegetation, indicating the land has
of sawah among heirs. The system also keeps the land from reached a successional stage suitable for shifting cultivation.
ownership fragmentation and therefore eases overexploita- A dominant vegetation of rumput kinat (Paspalum conju-
tion. Burgers (2004) argues that such a traditional resource gatum Berg.) indicates additional fallowing is necessary
management system is an effective way to manage the before cultivation will produce satisfactory yields.
sawah on a sustainable basis. Villagers initially establish a plot of about 10 m by 10 m
There is growing conflict over land ownership in this area on a block of old growth forest (rimbo gano) at a point
between the KSNP, which was established in 1999, and easily seen by passers-by, and clear the plot of all understo-
local Serampas villagers who have occupied the region for ry. The establishment of this cleared block (melambeh)
centuries. The government of Indonesia originally urged the indicates that a surrounding parcel of forested land has been
development of a people-free park and planned to remove claimed and will be cleared and cultivated usually within
Serampas from KSNP territory (Neidel 2006). Citing a three months. If the forested land around the melambeh is
number of national agrarian and park-related laws (e.g., not cleared within three months, the farmer loses the cus-
UU No.5/1967, UU No.41/1999), the government accused tomary entitlement to secure it, and it automatically reverts
the Serampas of encroaching on forest lands. After a long to common property available to all villagers. Farmers cul-
and complicated debate, the Serampas have now been in- tivate umo for two years before moving to another site.
corporated into KSNP. However, no clear plans have been Traditionally they left the old site fallow for a number of
made for dealing with their land and their future. Today the years, and might or might not comeback to exactly the same
Serampas are in the ambiguous position of paying annual site to reestablish umo.
tax on their lands (Pajak Bumi dan Banguan) without re- At the outset of establishing a new plot, according to the
ceiving secure tenure. Serampas worldview, the farmer expects to receive signs
from the spirits of agreement or objection to his intention,
Serampas Shifting Cultivation Practices usually allowing three months for a response. During this
period, a bad dream or an undefined illness may be inter-
Shifting cultivation is still widely practiced in Serampas, preted as resistance from bad spirits who occupy the land
mainly in the villages of Tanjung Kasri, and Lubuk Mentilin and the farmer can either abandon the land and seek another
where sawah is limited and mostly owned by the local elites, potential plot or he can ask a local shaman to perform ngisi
and thus the ganti gilir system cannot be applied. Villagers tanah, a ritual to chase the bad spirits away from the land.
320 Hum Ecol (2012) 40:315325

Rice harvesting is initiated by a ritual of jemput padi. The cultivation over the long term, but also holds social impli-
undried harvest, including stalks, is then loaded directly into cations for promoting equality of land access. Finally, the
a bilik, a traditional rice barn. Villagers always put the low population density of Serampas, which ranges between
newest rice on top and eat it first (first in last out) since 1.5 and 3.8 persons per km2, also contributes to the sustain-
it is much tastier than the old rice. As a result, a bilik may ability of shifting cultivation. Overall, the area of forest
hold many layers of rice; some local elders have rice that cleared for shifting cultivation is estimated between 10 and
was harvested more than 50 years ago. Villagers usually use 22 hectares annually, including primary forest and fallowed
this older rice to feed large numbers of people at traditional forests. This constitutes about 0.13% of total forested land in
gatherings such as kenduri psko, an annual cultural festival, each village. Population growth in the villages is currently
and wedding parties. approximately 1.11.4% per annum.
For the Serampas, the practice of shifting cultivation
Serampas Shifting Cultivation and Conservation embodies many dimensions of social and spiritual life, in-
cluding interactions between individuals and their commu-
Worldwide, there is ongoing debate about the ecological nity, their environment, and with their creator and the spirits,
effects of shifting cultivation. Some scholars, as well as articulated in a number of rituals performed from the initial
some national governments, point to shifting cultivators as establishment of an umo through to the storage of the rice
the main driving forces behind deforestation (e.g., Dove harvest, as well as by various taboos (see also, e.g., Conklin
1985; Myers 1993; Rambo 1996; Fox et al. 2009). Other 1957; Dove 1985; Lahajir 2001; Darmanto 2006).
scholars believe that shifting cultivation can be an environ-
mentally sound technology that fits with the local natural The Shift to Cinnamon Agroforestry
and social conditions (Mackie et al. 1986; Alcorn 1990;
Colfer and Dudley 1993; Kleinman et al. 1995). The According to the elders, the Serampas learned about plant-
Serampas are fully conscious of the negative impressions ing cinnamon as a cash crop from the neighboring district of
of outsiders, especially the government, of their practice Lempur in the 1970s. They have developed different types
of shifting cultivation, and they are uncertain as to whether of cinnamon-based agroforests (Fig. 3) according to local
they will be able to continue this practice since they are now socioeconomic circumstances. In upland rice, mixed crops
located within the KSNP and cinnamon systems (Fig. 3a), in the first year following
However, the ecological impacts of Serampas shifting the establishment of umo farmers plant cinnamon seedlings,
cultivation practices may be low for four reasons. First, they mainly gathered from existing cinnamon agroforests, in
prefer to make use of secondary rather than old-growth between the rice.2 Villagers use purely symbolic uras (nat-
forest not only because it has less root debris and they thus ural pesticides) obtained from kenduri psko (an annual fes-
save significant time and effort in clearing, but also because tival) and other rituals (Hariyadi 2010) rather than chemical
the soils are more fertile (see Soedjito 1985, for East fertilizers or pesticides.
Kalimantan). Second, unlike shifting cultivators in many After growing rice and mixed crops for two consecutive
areas of Southeast Asia (e.g., Conklin 1957; Dove 1985; years, farmers establish a new umo and leave the cinnamon
Colfer et al. 1997), the Serampas do not consistently use fire plants to mature. Villagers initially plant a high density of
to establish an umo. Since the Serampas follow the Islamic cinnamon, about 2500 to 3000 seedlings per hectare, which
calendar (based on the lunar cycle) for agricultural activities, they gradually thin out to about 180300 trees per hectare.
the period of land preparation does not always occur at the After about seven years, the cinnamon can be harvested.
beginning of the dry season. Prior to the introduction of Cinnamon agroforests need little maintenance. Occasionally
Islam in this region, the planting schedule was regulated by villagers collect fruit and other resources that grow in be-
stellar cycles, especially the appearance of the Pleiades tween the cinnamon such as petai (Parkia speciosa Haask),
(Marsden 1966). Farmers may use fire if the timing of land jering (A. pauclorum [Benth.] I.C. Nielsen), nangko
preparation coincides with the onset of the dry season, but if (Artocarpus heterophylus Lam.), durian (Durio zibethinus
not, or if there is rain even in the dry season, which is Murr.), surian tanam (Toona sinensis [A.Juss.] M.Roem)
common, they cover their umo with twigs and debris which and nyeman (Pandanus sp.).
they allow to degrade naturally (see Darmanto 2006, for Farmers plant upland rice, mixed crops, coffee and cin-
similar practices on the Mentawai Islands off western namon simultaneously in the first year and harvest just two
Sumatra). This practice prevents erosion and maintains soil
fertility (Persoon, 1992). Third, the recognition of umo as 2
This saves significant labor, which is important in Serampas, where
common property according to adat allows fallowed lands to
labor is limited. Belcher et al. (2005) point out that agroforestry
re-grow into secondary forests and recover soil fertility. This systems are sensitive to labor supply and may cease to be competitive
practice not only ensures a sustainable cycle of shifting when its opportunity costs increase.
Hum Ecol (2012) 40:315325 321

Fig. 3 Different types of

cinnamon agroforests
developed from shifting
cultivation in Serampas.
Diagrams represent the
progression of crops over a five
year period. a Upland Rice
Mixed CropsCinnamon. 0 1 2 3 4 5 year
b Upland RiceMixed Crop
CoffeeCinnamon. c Peanut (a) Upland Rice - Mixed Crops Cinnamon
Mixed CropsUpland Rice
CoffeeCinnamon. d Upland
RiceMixed CropsCoffee

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 year
(b) Upland Rice Mixed Crop Coffee Cinnamon

0 1 2 3 4 5 year

(c) Peanut Mixed Crops Upland Rice Coffee Cinnamon

0 1 2 3 4 5 year

(d) Upland Rice Mixed Crops Coffee.

Mixed Crops Upland

(mainly vegetables) Cinnamon


rounds of rice during the first two years (Fig. 3b). They Farmers developed the peanutmixed cropsupland
employ various cinnamoncoffee ratios, mostly between 6:1 ricecoffeecinnamon system (Fig. 3c) in an effort to
and 3:2. The coffee starts to produce in the third year and get cash within a relatively short time. There are some
continues for the following four years. It reaches its highest variations on this agroforest typevillagers may start by
production level in the fourth year and then gradually declines growing upland rice first and then grow peanuts in the
as the growing cinnamon canopy steadily covers the coffee second cycle or the reverse. Alternatively, they may grow both
plants. By the seventh year, the cinnamon canopies totally together during the first year but in separate plots. They may
shade out most understory species, including the coffee, also devote all their land to peanut production, although this is
which is no longer productive and gradually disappears. mostly done by households which have secured their rice for
322 Hum Ecol (2012) 40:315325

several seasons, for example those who cultivate peanuts in farming system such as a complex multi-layer agroforest
uplands and at the same time grow rice in wetlands or have (e.g., McCarthy 2005).
enough stored rice. In the third year and onwards, manage- The price of cinnamon was at its lowest level in 2007, at
ment practices are the same as those described above. the time of this study. Most people had abandoned active
The upland ricemixed cropscoffee system (Fig. 3d) care of their cinnamon and but left the trees in their fields as
is mostly practiced by local elites with good resources and safety nets in case of emergencies (see also Neidel 2006).
knowledge of the market for cash crops, especially coffee. Schroth et al. (2003) recognize such practices as agroforest
They start by planting upland rice, mixed crops and coffee style a logical consequence of a minimum investment
simultaneously but may grow rice for only one cycle then farming system (see Dean 1987, for a similar case of rubber
grow only coffee. This system is very similar to coffee agroforests in the Tapajs River region of the Brazilian
farming as widely practiced by smallholder sedentary coffee Amazon).
farmers in some sub-districts in the east of Serampas such as In analyzing the changes in types of Serampas agrofor-
Lembah Masurai. ests over time (Fig. 4), it becomes clear that Serampas have
Cinnamon agroforestry provides an important source of progressively shifted to more market-oriented farming sys-
income for the Serampas and during the cinnamon boom in tems. The fact that mixed crops, which include a large
the late 1980s and late 1990s they invested their extra number of vegetables and other essential foods, are present
income in renovating their houses, sending their children in all the agroforest models they have developed highlights
to school in nearby cities, buying luxury items such as the economic and cultural significance of these plants.
televisions and electric generators, and going on pilgrimages Today the process of adaptation continues as some
to Mecca. Although they produce a large amount of cinna- Serampas farmers experiment with other crops. For exam-
mon, they rarely use it themselves. Among the 267 plant ple, some have started planting nilam (Pogostemon cablin
uses recorded for the Serampas, cinnamon bark is listed only Benth., a volatile oil plant, native to Southeast Asia (Misra
once, as a cure for stomach problems (Hariyadi 2010), 1996)) in the second cycle of their upland rice-mixed crops-
reflecting their recent exposure to this species. coffee farming. 3
The Serampas incorporation of a cash tree crop into their
shifting cultivation practices is consistent with adaptations Implications of Cinnamon Agroforests for Conservation
by shifting cultivators elsewhere. Potter (2001) suggests that in the KSNP
initiatives to advance shifting cultivation will, over long
periods of time, usually result in tree-based agroforestry The practice of shifting cultivation over generations has
driven by the market expansion of agroforest trees (Cramb resulted in a mosaic of old-growth forests, secondary forests
et al. 2009) possibly alongside food crop intensification. For and umo fields in Serampas. However, the spread of cinna-
example, after practicing a series of cropping systems in- mon agroforestry has led to farmers leaving a young cinna-
cluding rice cultivation, the Krui in Southern Sumatra de- mon agroforest before moving to another piece of land
veloped a system that ultimately resulted in damar, a instead of leaving the land fallowed in the third year
complex Dipterocarpaceae-based agroforest (Mary and (Fig. 4). Theoretically, farmers can develop a parcel of
Michon 1987). In lowland Jambi shifting cultivation cinnamon agroforest every two years. If the price of cinna-
resulted in rubber jungle agroforests (Gouyon et al. mon in the local market is good, farmers may harvest and
1993). The Baduy in Western Java enrich their farming with clear the cinnamon in the seventh year or later and return to
Albizia (Paraserianthes falcataria) (Iskandar and Ellen shifting cultivation crops before replanting the cinnamon.
2000), and shifting cultivation in central Sulawesi has grad- Alternatively, they may maintain cinnamon for decades.
ually shifted toward the establishment of cacao agroforests Biodiversity conservation is threatened as more and more
(Belsky and Siebert 2003). secondary forest is converted to cinnamon agroforests, es-
Belcher et al. (2005) observe that there a number of pecially close to villages where there has been a gradual
factors that likely drive the establishment of an agroforest shift of land ownership from adat common property to
in certain areas, including a local customary system that private ownership. In contrast to agroforestry systems else-
provides some level of land security, a local economy that where, where long-term shifting cultivation practices can
is in between a subsistence and cash economy, abundant lead to the development of complex multilayer agroforests
land but limited labor, and lack of a formal risk coverage (Potter 2001), in Serampas an extensive and almost mono-
management system such as insurance. The Serampas, with
a population density of between 1.0 and 1.4 people per
square kilometer, still have enough land to allow them to 3
The very low price of cinnamon has also motivated villagers in
practice an extensive farming system. However, this also Sungai Tenang, a neighboring sub-district, to grow other crops such
provides less incentive for them to develop a sophisticated as nilam (Kompas 2005).
Hum Ecol (2012) 40:315325 323

Fig. 4 Changes in Serampas

Old-growth forest/ Old-growth forest/
shifting cultivation patterns
primary forest primary forest/
over time4. (a before the
extensive growing of
cinnamon; be after the
extensive growing of
cinnamon). 4) Following Mary Umo Umo
and Michon (1987). Dash lines
indicate that a farmer may
develop umo or re-grow the
same agroforest crops after Cinnamon
harvesting and clearing an Rapohen Agroforest

(a) (b)

Old-growth forest/ Old-growth forest/ Old-growth forest/

primary forest/ primary forest/ primary forest/
rapohen rapohen rapohen

Umo Umo Umo

Coffee Cinnamon Peanut Cinnamon Peanut Coffee

Cinnamon Cinnamon Coffee

Agroforest Agroforest Agroforest

(c) (d) (e)

dominant cinnamon agroforest with very low levels of plant and the creator. Park administrators, conservation biologists,
species diversity has developed (Hariyadi 2010). government officials, politicians and others involved in
The adoption of cinnamon agroforests can be understood conservation policy must recognize this much broader pic-
as an effort by the Serampas to maximize land productivity ture when working with the Serampas and other indigenous
and obtain cash in the face of changes in their social, groups to develop plans for sustainable resource use within
economic and environmental context, including the weak- protected areas. In addition, Serampas traditional ecological
ening of adat and especially reflects a logical strategy to knowledge of vegetation types and species indicators, brief-
secure land tenure, given that the land is within the area of ly described here, can provide insight for forest conserva-
KSNP. Thus, the establishment of the national park provided tion. The traditional practice of shifting cultivation appears
an important incentive for the Serampas to adopt land-use to have cultural and ecological components that have pro-
practices that actually threaten biodiversity conservation. moted both ecological sustainability and social equality over
the long-term. However, the establishment of KSNP and the
resulting uncertainty over Serampas land-tenure has fostered
Conclusion the breaking down of this system and a shift towards in-
creasing plantations of cinnamon. Secure tenure systems
Our description of Serampas shifting agricultural practices and other local institutions that regulate the use of, and
illustrates that, as elsewhere (Conklin 1957; Spencer 1966; access to, resources are critical components of local man-
Weinstock and Sunito 1989; Sunderlin 1997; Brown and agement systems and represent a key to ensuring sustain-
Schreckenberg 1998; Padoch et al. 2007; Mertz et al. 2009), ability (Berkes 2008). Securing Serampas land tenure as
they cannot be viewed as simply a means of producing food well as re-strengthening the adat system may be key strate-
but rather are integral to Serampas cultural life, shaping the gies to better promote conservation within KSNP (see von
cultural and ecological landscape, and the local traditions, Benda-Beckman and von Benda-Beckman 2001).
rituals and worldviews associated with shifting cultivation In Sumatra and elsewhere, the presence of indigenous com-
articulate a complex relationship between humanity, nature munities within a national park provides both opportunities
324 Hum Ecol (2012) 40:315325

and challenges. On the one hand, misunderstanding and dis- Burgers, P. (2004). Resource Management under Stressed Livelihood
Conditions: Changing Livelihood and Management Practices in
cord between the people and the park will encourage natural the Bufferzone of the Kerinci Seblat National Park, Kerinci
resource management practices that harm biodiversity conser- District, Sumatra. Faculty of Geoscience, Utrecht University, 249p.
vation. On the other hand, a good understanding between park Cholif, M. A. (1971). Monografi Adat Ketjamatan Djangkat dan
managers and the residents can facilitate a collaboration that Pengaruh Islam. IAIN Sultan Thaha Sjaifuddin Jambi at Sungai
Penuh, 40p.
fosters both biodiversity conservation and local peoples wel- Colfer, C. J. P., and Dudley, R. G. (1993). Shifting Cultivators of
fare. Serampas land-use decisions are shaped by multiple Indonesia: Marauders or Managers of the Forest? FAO
factors in addition to KNSP, and as their resource management Community Forestry Case Study Series No. 6, FAO, Rome.
systems continue to adapt to changing conditions, including Colfer, C. J. P., Peluso, N., and Chung, C. S. (1997). Beyond Slash and
Burn: Building on Indigenous Management of Borneos Tropical
new markets and roads, a better understanding of their social Rain Forest. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY, USA,
and ecological underpinnings can help local communities and pp.79129.
park managers work better together to develop strategies that Concklin, H. C. (1957). Hanuno Agriculture: A Report on an Integral
are both ecologically and culturally appropriate. System of Shifting Cultivation in the Philippines. Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
Cox, P. A. (2000). Will tribal knowledge survive the Millennium?
Acknowledgments The authors would like to express their gratitude Science 287: 4445.
to the Serampas community, particularly residents of the villages of Cramb, R. A., Colfer, C. J. P., Dressler, W., Laungaramsri, P., Le, Q. T.,
Tanjung Kasri and Renah Kemumu, for their unreserved efforts and Mulyoutami, E., Peluso, N., Wadley, R. L. (2009). Swidden
support in transmitting local knowledge associated with shifting culti- Transformation and Rural Livelihoods in Southeast Asia. Hum.
vation. We also thank Dr. Jefferson Fox and Dr. Mark Merlin for Ecol. 37: 323346.
suggestions and discussion on shifting cultivation. This work was Darmanto (2006). Studi perladangan hutan tradisional masyarakat
supported by grants to B.H. from the International Fellowship Program mentawai (pumonean) di pulau siberut, sumatra barat. In
(IFP)Ford Foundation, International Foundation of Science (IFS), Soedjito, H. (ed.), Kearifan radisional dan Cagar biosfer di
and UNESCO Obuchi Scholarship. Indonesia. Komitee Nasional MAB Indonesia, Lembaga Ilmu
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