How Effective is the Buffer Zone? Linking Institutional Processes with Satellite Images from a Case Study in the Lore Lindu Forest Biosphere Reserve, Indonesia

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"Biosphere reserves seek to reconcile nature conservation with local development goals, for example by delineating buffer zones of sustainable resource use around core areas with primary conservation objectives. Here we evaluate buffer zone effectiveness in reducing deforestation within the Lore Lindu Biosphere Reserve in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Socio-economic and remote-sensing data were combined in an integrated approach. We applied a systematic qualitative social research design and carried out in-depth interviews with local, sub-national, and national authorities. Data collected through the interviews were used to interpret satellite images: (1) spatially, that is, forest cover change in the buffer zone versus the core area and, (2) over time, that is, forest cover change as a response to changing management regimes and socio-economic processes in the region. For this purpose a time series of LANDSAT scenes from 1972 to 2007 was used to classify homogeneous areas of forest cover to detect deforestation. According to the satellite image analysis, the buffer zone in Lore Lindu was ineffective at reducing forest cover clearing in the core area between 1972 and 2007. Since management establishment in 1998, the deforestation rate within the core area even increased fourfold. The gathered data suggest that there are three main institutional drivers to account for this ineffectiveness: (1) Low awareness of boundary demarcation among the villagers due to the lack of participation during management and boundary establishment, (2) The fall of the national president Suharto in 1998, which subsequently triggered deforestation activities in the core area, as the park was perceived to be the local branch of the national, suppressive regime, and (3) The lack of implementation of the biosphere reserve concept at the national level, which leads to unclear responsibilities in the buffer zone as the legal backing for any cooperation in the buffer zone is lacking. Although it appears that the forest status in Lore Lindu is still good compared to other regions in Indonesia, attention must be given to the protection of the core area. We thus conclude that the biosphere reserve concept needs to be strengthened in Indonesia. Its implementation at the national level, including adoption of clearly defined regulations, would substantially contribute to reducing negative impacts on biosphere reserve management through, for example, carefully designed awareness raising programs."



buffer zones, resource management, protected areas, remote sensing