Auteurs: Louis Tanguay (Biologie, UQAM) et Stéphane Bernard (Géographie, UQAM)
Journal of Rural Studies | Volume 77 | Pages 169-184
Arable lands and biodiversity hotspots overlap in many places, resulting in conflicts between actors involved in agricultural development and those promoting biodiversity conservation. In Java, high population density complexifies these conflicts. The challenge for local agricultural systems is to provide for adequate means to meet the food needs of the increasing population while the intensifying urbanization exerts pressure on agrosystems and the remaining natural ecosystems. In this context, this article seeks to evaluate to which extent rural communities and natural biodiversity can cohabit harmoniously within Javanese landscapes. To this end, interviews were conducted with farmers living within three different landscapes located in the Dieng Mountains of Central Java. Visual assessments of the agricultural environment were also carried out. The ecoagriculture approach framework, which integrates the objectives of agricultural development, biodiversity conservation and social development while promoting appropriate governance, was used for the analysis.
All three landscapes exhibit somewhat harmonious relationships between communities, agricultural systems and the surrounding ecosystems, but to different extends. Vegetable crops are relatively beneficial as a result of their high market value and their nutritional qualities, but they also generate more agricultural pollution when compared to agroforestry systems. These latter provide substantial incomes, require less care and help preserve several essential ecosystem services. However, the institutional capacity sustaining the three studied landscapes is considerably defective and represents their main handicap. Even though this case study is specific to Java, it represents a key example of the evolution of ecoagricultural landscapes in a context of high population density. Indeed, the study shows that natural and semi-natural areas responsible for essential ecosystem services can thrive in tropical regions with very high population density. This study also shows that Javanese ecoagricultural landscapes can still act as a sanctuary for the island’s remaining biodiversity, and outside of officially protected areas and of the conflicts that they can generate. Finally, the study shows that agriculture remains a highly important security net for Javanese rural households, and even in a time when the income of these households is becoming more and more diversified. But the fate of the studied landscapes remains uncertain in a globalizing world facing an environmental crisis. Closer collaboration between governmental institutions and local communities might be necessary to insure the preservation of such landscapes.