Revitalizing Pekarangan Conserves Protected Area

Pekarangan systems are sustainable examples of systems represented by reliably recycling nutrients, preserving soils, and conserving protected areas indirectly. Some environmental benefits are obtained from pekarangan. In many cases, revi­talizing pekarangan conserves a protected area and tends to reduce encroachment of the forest (Table 17.2).

Mainly in West Java, some forests outside the protected areas were transformed into open-field agriculture, intensive tree crop production, such as cacao (Theobroma cacao) systems or plantations for the beverage industry, tea (Camellia sinensis) and coffee (Coffea arabica). Thus, some abandoned lands or unsuitable lands from those

Table 17.2 Differences of the pekarangan system compared to other utilization



Commercial garden

Field agriculture

Planting and harvesting

• Species density


Medium to low


• Species type

Staple, vegetable,

Vegetable, fruit

Staple (subsistence,

fruit (cultural)



• Harvest frequency

Daily, seasonal

Seasonal (short)

Seasonal (long)

• Cropping Irregular, row patterns

Production and economic



• Production objective

Home consumption (subsistence)

Market sale

Subsistence, market safe

• Economic role


Major economic activity

Major economic activity

• Technology

Simple hand tools

Hand tools or

Mechanized if possible, hand




• Input cost


Medium to high

Medium to high

• Economic assistance

None or minor


Credit, extension

Labor and skill

• Labor resource

Family (female, elderly, children)

Family or hired (male, female)

Family, hired (male, female)

• Labor





• Skills required




Agricultural, commercial

• Space utilization

Horizontal, vertical

Horizontal, vertical


• Location

Close to dwelling

Close to urban market

Rural setting, near or distant from homestead

• Distribution

Rural and urban



Protected area

• Competition to local species

Medium to high

Highly competitive

Low to medium

• Disturbance


Medium to large scale

Large scale

• Encroachment level


Medium to high


Underlined entries indicate pekarangan benefits and unique characteristics compared to other cultivation systems

systems are gradually becoming small villages. These villages occurred sporadically within a decade. The government perceived these arising villages as an unsolved problem. The communities inside these villages then will slowly try encroaching on the forest margin to get some land for cultivating or for fuel wood, food, and other materials. Introduction of the ideas of pekarangan practices, which can convince those communities to maintain their own land for the long-term preservation of protected areas, is strongly to be recommended.

17.5 Discussion

Although pekarangan are an age-old practice in many parts of the tropics and even other parts of the world, as stated by Kumar and Nair (2004, 2006), only limited data are available about their contents and distribution, particularly in Indonesia. The number of pekarangan covers about 5.13 million ha of total land, of which 1.74 million ha is located in Java (BPS 2000), and then increased during the next 10 years to 8.5% of total area (BPS 2010). Research on pekarangan is primarily concerned with pekarangan in urbanization (Kaswanto et al. 2010), floristic plants (Molebatsi et al. 2010), fragmentation (Arifin and Nakagoshi 2011), single­commodity production systems (Kumar 2011), and conservation (Tabuti et al. 2011). There are few studies on species from pekarangan related to conser­vation of protected areas.

For the purpose of conserving a protected area, pekarangan might be one solution to help people stay within their villages. People will not encroach protected areas to seek more income or food resources, because the pekarangan itself could provide significant additional income and food for consumption. In some cases, population pressures and economic reasons threaten some households to resettle in forest margin areas, or even to move to protected areas. Offering pekarangan area to landless or marginal families can reduce pressure for encroaching forest areas. It helps both to allow families remain in their area and also to reduce forest conver­sion. In addition, distribution of pekarangan may reduce the need for land-poor families to gather fodder and fuel wood from marginal lands, contributing to the sustainability of protected areas (Mitchell and Hanstad 2004).

The species heterogeneity inside pekarangan is high in value, which was represented by Margalef, Shannon-Wienner, Simpson, and Sorenson indices. Inva­sive species that were planted in pekarangan related to the sustainability of protected area were also a concern. Among 214 species found in pekarangan, 32 of them (14.95 %) are exotic species, meaning the progress of invading species in pekarangan is still small. However, some exotic species were found in the upperstream area, which means the forest margin area also should be monitored.

Although the pekarangan systems in the tropics are claimed to sustain basic needs of communities without environmental deterioration (Schultink 2000), the ecological rationality of the harmony between humans, pekarangan, and the envi­ronment could be more clearly understood (Gajaseni and Gajaseni 1999). More­over, the pekarangan systems also provide economic benefits for rural communities. Therefore, this research tried to analyze both economic aspects and biodiversity.

It is supported by some research that pekarangan in rural areas are an important factor for the economy and self-sufficiency of many households. The degree to which the pekarangan contribute to the provision of household food varies consid­erably and can only be tentatively determined (Wezel and Bender 2003). Through this research we found that pekarangan contribute up to 12.9 % of total income. Therefore, pekarangan can still has benefits for households in the future.

As stated by Soemarwoto (1987), more than 20 years ago but still relevant, pekarangan is a traditional agroforestry system with a promising future. Sustain­able managed pekarangan have a significant role for the environment (Kaswanto et al. 2008; Harashina et al. 2003).

Nevertheless, we also assume that watersheds are also classified as protected areas, particularly at the upper stream area, because they basically formed as forest and conserve much biodiversity and water. Our study sites are on the watershed concept; we start to manage watershed from the microscale as well as pekarangan. When we preserve watershed, we also conserve the protected area, indirectly.

In term of regulation, the “segregation” of functions, however, was not complete and the boundaries remained contested. For the conservation stakeholders the primary way to achieve their goals was to increase the size and connectivity of “protected areas,” while people continued to infringe on the national park (particularly on GGP and GHS) and contested the legality of forest allocation to logging concessions or conservation agencies. In part of the landscape, a more integrated and gradual transition from natural forest to human habitat survived for a number of reasons. Here, the villages, generally located below the natural forest, maintained an active interest in regularity of water flow and other ecosystem services that the forest provided. Maintaining a balance in such “integrated” landscapes depends on appro­priate incentives, rather than the “command and control” approach of protected areas.

The LCS built by stakeholders in rural communities could further develop environmentally friendly activities, by passing down local wisdom for future generations. A rural LCS community, particularly those in remote areas still undisturbed by modern activity, have a way of knowledge on sustainable system management.

17.6 Conclusions and Recommendations

In conclusion, pekarangan can be one solution to conserve protected areas indi­rectly. In addition, some findings are also interesting: (1) pekarangan has high biodiversity even in a small area less than 400 m2, (2) pekarangan gives a significant contribution to additional income, diet, and nutrition for a household, and (3) pekarangan is proven as one solution to keep protected areas/national parks more sustainable. The recommendations are (1) to revitalize more pekarangan around protected areas, and (2) to provide knowledge for marginal communities around protected areas about the benefits from pekarangan management.

Acknowledgments This research was supported by the Global Environmental Leaders (GELs) Education Program for Designing a Low Carbon Society (LCS) by Hiroshima University, Japan. Preliminary survey was a cooperative work between the Rural Development Institute (RDI), Seattle, USA and the Department of Landscape Architecture, Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia. This paper has been presented in the 8th World Congress of the International Associ­ation for Landscape Ecology (IALE) on August 18-23, 2011 in Beijing, China.

Updated: October 17, 2015 — 9:27 pm