The oil palm and conservation 'double bind'? Livelihood aspirations and forest desires in East Kalimantan, Indonesia
AffiliationSchool of Geography
Document TypeHonours thesis
Access StatusOnly available to University of Melbourne staff and students, login required
© 2019 Mia Dunphy
Across Southeast Asian frontiers, forest dependent peoples have been negotiating a relatively rapid agrarian transition towards increasingly market-oriented livelihoods. In changing frontiers, part of this transition has involved rural households seeking lucrative livelihood opportunities in order to fulfil changing social and material aspirations in the face of competing governance and extractive pressures. In East Kalimantan, Indonesia, rural Dayak households have engaged in a similar transition involving a shift towards livelihoods based in expanding oil palm plantations and other off-farm opportunities. Concurrently, however, civil society organisations (CSOs) attempt to counter this transition by encouraging Dayak smallholders to retain customary, forest-based activities in the hope of conserving biodiversity in the context of increasing deforestation from oil palm plantations. Focusing on the village of Lesan Dayak, this study examines how Dayak households negotiate these intersecting pressures, or ‘double bind’, as they define their desired futures. This study finds that rather than necessarily choosing one pathway over another, Lesan Dayak households aspire to integrate both oil palm and forest livelihood options to enhance familial well-being. As such, households are paving their own way, rejecting the two ‘absolute’ livelihood options that oil palm companies and CSOs have presented and represented, as they aspire for greater well-being by maintaining forests and taking advantage of lucrative smallholder oil palm opportunities.
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