Balancing conservation theory and practice in human-dominated landscapes of Southeast Asia
Large mammal populations theoretically are best conserved in landscapes where large protected areas are surrounded by buffer zones, connected by corridors, and integrated into a greater ecosystem. Multi-use buffer zones, including those containing complex agroforestry systems, are promoted as one strategy to provide both economic beneﬁts to people and conservation beneﬁts to wildlife. We use the island of Sumatra, Indonesia to explore the beneﬁts and limitations of this strategy. We conclude that conservation beneﬁts are accrued by expanding the habitat available for large mammals but more attention needs to be focused on how to reduce and respond to human–wildlife conﬂict that is likely to occur in these multiple use areas. Agroforestry systems are likely to play an increasingly valuable role in the conservation of large mammalian species. We believe this value can be increased still further if the agroforestry community decides to assume a leadership role in addressing the issue of human–wildlife conﬂict, which is fast becoming a central threat to the survival of many large endangered species like tigers and elephants. Both people and wildlife can beneﬁt enormously if appropriate methods are developed to more rigorously deﬁne the distribution and frequency of conﬂict between tigers and elephants with people along the edge of protected areas. Sharp forest–agriculture boundaries may reduce tiger–human conﬂicts, but not elephant–human conﬂict according to the data we currently have.