Why do farmers plant trees? : developing and testing a decision-making model for Indonesian farmers
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The main issue faced by the Government of Indonesia (GoI) in managing its tropical forest resources is the uncontrolled forest degradation that has reached an alarming rate. This problem particularly has adversely affected the balance of wood supply and demand in Indonesia as well as creating some environmental issues. The GoI has sought to maintain and to rehabilitate its natural forest by introducing various policies and programmes. One of these programmes is to create new resources through encouraging landowners to grow trees for timber production. A case study using multiple social science methods was conducted in Riau Province of Indonesia with the objective of understanding landowners' reasons, aspirations and decision-making regarding tree planting. Understanding these topics is very important for planning and implementing further policies and projects relating to tree planting on private land for timber production. To date, only a few studies of landowners' decision-making regarding tree planting have been conducted in Indonesia. The research used unstructured interviews to identify the tree planting issues directly from the landowners themselves. Primary data and information obtained from the 146 farmers and landowners were then arranged into a hierarchical decision model (HDM) in order to examine and to understand decision-making. The tree-like model formulated in this study represents details of the landowners' decision-making process and explains why they decided to plant or not to plant trees on their lands. The model does not simply list the factors influencing the farmers' decision-making, nor only presents the main reasons and constraints that the landowners took into account before they decided to grow trees, but also provides details about the process of their decision-making. The decision model was then tested to evaluate how well it predicted behaviour. The testing procedure used a questionnaire survey that involved a sample of 309 randomly selected respondents in the same study area. The survey was conducted with the help of the survey helpers, and the questions in the questionnaire were based on the decision criteria that represent the model. The results show that the model was able to predict decision-making behaviour with a reasonable accuracy of 82 percent. In addition the research used statistical tests to analyse quantitative data obtained from the model-testing period. Both qualitative and quantitative results were then compared, and the results obtained from quantitative analysis supported and strengthened the findings obtained from the decision tree model. The combination of results from the qualitative and quantitative approaches has increased understanding of tree planting decision-making. The hierarchical decision tree model is one of the cognitive science models which has worked well in representing farmers' decision-making in the study area, and was a suitable approach to address the objectives of this research. Different from similar research that highlights only the significant factors influencing farmers' decision-making, the HDM model in this thesis showed that farmers responded to distinctive combinations of economic and social factors in making decisions regarding tree planting. The model also showed the details of the decision-making process that it is not possible to represent with economic models or statistic behaviour models. Based on real-life decision-making, the model in this research is able to show the needs as well as the aspirations of landowners and farmers regarding tree planting. The model is useful to policy makers, and shows that farmers had views and expectations different from the Indonesian government. The current policies provided by the GoI are not sufficient to encourage farmers to manage trees on their own farms. In order to have more farmers or landowners participate in the tree-planting programme, the model suggests that the Indonesian government should adjust and improve the implementation of the policies in line with the needs of people who are involved in the programme. The recommended policies include providing channels for small-scale tree farmers, improving the way the GoI trains the extension agents, continue providing incentives and soft loans with more emphasis on helping small tree farmers. It also includes giving usufruct rights to tree farmers, and introducing inter cropping systems rather than monoculture tree plantation. Decentralisation strategies can also be effective to conserve and to utilise community based forest management.