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Human Ecology

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 273–290 | Cite as

Natural Resource Management: Historical Lessons from Indonesia

  • David Henley
Article

Abstract

This paper uses a variety of historical evidence from Indonesia to explore the conditions for sustainable management of natural resources. In the agricultural sphere, history gives reason for optimism regarding the ability of individuals to conserve and improve soil resources on an uncoordinated, anarchic basis under systems of intensive smallholder farming and agroforestry. It also suggests that this ability may be enhanced, rather than eroded, both by population growth and by the commercialization of agriculture. When it comes to the management of forests and fisheries and the conservation of nature, by contrast, there is less reason for optimism. If sustainable solutions are to be found in these spheres, the historical evidence suggests that they will involve political hierarchy, and will depend on the honouring of a social contract in which the state serves the public interest while retaining the powers of coercion which it needs in order to do just that.

Keywords

Indonesia Resource management History Institutional economics Political ecology 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The research on which this paper is based was carried out under the auspices of the EDEN (Ecology, Demography and Economy in Nusantara) research project of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) in Leiden. I am grateful to Dorian Fougères, and to two anonymous referees, for their comments on an earlier version of the paper.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV)RA LeidenThe Netherlands

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