|dc.description.abstracteng||In the last decades, oil palm cultivation has increased rapidly to meet the rising demands for vegetable oils worldwide. While in the 1970s, two million tons of palm oil on 3.3 million hectares of land were produced worldwide, production levels have increased by 36 times in 2019, to around 72.3 million tons on 28.3 million hectares of land. There are two main reasons for the rapid expansion. Oil palms can produce more tons per hectare compared to any other crop. In addition, it is very versatile in its use and can be used in the food industry, for cosmetics, industrial and agrochemical products, and biodiesel.
Indonesia has been the biggest oil palm producer worldwide since 2008. The oil palm boom has brought economic benefits such as increases in incomes and living standards for the producers and others along the value chain. Besides the economic benefits that the oil palm industry has entailed, the massive land-use transformation and the common management practices applied have led to immense environmental degradation that affects the local population, rural and urban, but also beyond borders.
Against this background, the focus of this dissertation is on the economic and environmental trade-offs of oil palm cultivation. The dissertation also addresses the environmental dimension of oil palm cultivation by examining climate change perceptions, environmental concern, and pro-environmental behavior among the local population. The present dissertation comprises three essays and addresses three broad research objectives: First, to assess the adoption decisions of an agricultural technology that generates positive environmental effects among small-scale oil palm farmers to support sustainable oil palm cultivation; second, to examine the environmental concern and pro-environmental behavior among the local population in a setting characterized by a rapid land-use transformation in the Global South; and third, to understand climate change perceptions among small-scale oil palm farmers in a setting of rapid land-use change. The analysis of the three essays relies on primary data collection in Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia, from 2019 and 2020 and consists of a total of 757 respondents, where 408 are oil palm farmers and 349 are respondents from Jambi City. This research was conducted in the frame of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 990: Ecological and Socioeconomic Functions of Tropical Lowland Rainforest Transformation System (EFForTS) in Indonesia.
The first essay focuses on the adoption of an agricultural technology that is socially desirable and generates positive environmental effects with delayed private benefits for the adopters. In the case of welfare-enhancing technologies such as improved seeds or fertilizer, scholars have shown that subsidies can be an adequate instrument to motivate adoption. Yet, for agricultural technologies such as native tree planting, that are socially desirable and need maintenance evidence remains limited on how to stimulate adoption, tree survival, and additional investments into this technology effectively. We implemented two policy interventions with oil palm smallholders to analyze the adoption of native tree planting, tree survival, and engagement in additional planting efforts. In the first treatment, oil palm farmers received information with regards to native tree planting and three native tree seedlings for free (subsidy treatment). In the second treatment, oil palm farmers received the same information about native tree planting and had then the opportunity to buy three native tree seedlings through an auction mechanism (price treatment). Our results show that under a subsidy scheme, farmers have a higher probability to plant the tree seedlings they received and they also plant more tree seedlings compared to the treatment where farmers had the opportunity to buy the seedlings. The higher planting intensity in the subsidy treatment led to a higher tree survival rate. Yet, we find a tendency towards more additional planting efforts in the price treatment pointing towards crowding-out effects of farmers in the subsidy treatment. The cost-effectiveness analysis that we conducted, reflects our results when focussing only on the trees that we provided. More tree seedlings were planted in the subsidy treatment which was also more expensive compared to the price treatment. The cost-effectiveness is higher for the price treatment when including additional planting efforts. This is driven by few farmers though.
The second essay addresses environmental concern and pro-environmental behavior among the local population living in an oil palm cultivating hotspot in the Global South. Scholars have shown that negative environmental repercussions have an effect on environmental concern and the engagement in pro-environmental behavior of individuals. Environmental concern and pro-environmental behavior both indirectly or directly influence decisions made about the sustainable use of natural resources. For policymakers, it is highly relevant to understand how the local population thinks and behaves to develop more targeted policy and outreach instruments to support sustainable land-use changes. While there exists literature on environmental concern and pro-environmental behavior in industrialized nations focusing on rural-urban differences, evidence is scarce for societies in the Global South. In this study, we examine environmental concern and pro-environmental behavior in the Global South where people live in an oil palm cultivating hotspot and in a setting characterized by a rapid land-use transformation. Our results reveal that overall rural residents are significantly more concerned than urban respondents. This is true for general environmental concern, as well as for the specific oil palm concern which shows that oil palm farmers might be aware of the environmental effects of oil palm cultivation. We also find that connectedness with nature, connectedness with oil palms, and the preference for more heterogeneous landscapes are important determinants for environmental concern. For pro-environmental behavior, we find that rural respondents engage more. A higher connectedness with oil palms decreased the engagement in pro-environmental behavior among the respondents while the hours participated in other environmental activities are positively correlated with pro-environmental behavior.
The third essay of this dissertation analyzes climate change perceptions of Indonesian small-scale oil palm farmers. The implications that climate change has on agriculture and vice versa are already visible today. On the one hand, the number and severity of climate change-related weather events have increased. On the other hand, agriculture contributes to climate change with the release of huge amounts of CO2. Much of the global warming that is experienced today and for the next 30 years is based on emissions that have already been released into the atmosphere. Yet, the degree of future global warming highly depends on emissions of today and the near future. Hence, adaptation strategies have to become a central strategy today to slow down and decrease the implications of climate change and agriculture on each other in the long term. To do so, climate change perceptions of individuals need to be well understood to develop suitable strategies. In this regard, scholars have shown that farmers seem to be aware of climate change and its potential effects to varying degrees. Important sociodemographic factors that are associated with climate change perceptions are education, age, and wealth amongst others. Yet, evidence remains limited for climate change awareness and the perceived affectedness of small-scale oil palm farmers living in a setting of rapid land-use transformation. In this study, we analyze determinants of climate change awareness and perceived affectedness of small-scale oil palm farmers. Our results reveal that about three-quarters of the respondents are aware of climate change and almost 60 percent feel personally affected by it. Important factors associated with climate change awareness and perceived affectedness are education, age, and wealth. Finally, the experience of extreme weather events seems to not strongly be associated with the climate change perceptions of the oil palm farmers.
This dissertation contributes to the actual state of research with regards to the economic and environmental trade-offs of oil palm cultivation as well as to the environmental dimension by examining climate change perceptions, environmental concern, and pro-environmental behavior among the local population. The results indicate firstly, that the adoption of native tree planting can be enhanced by a policy mix that involves the distribution of subsidized tree seedlings as well as value chain development to address multiple barriers to native tree seedlings. Secondly, environmental concern and pro-environmental behavior differ significantly between rural and urban residents, and hence, to overcome a lack of disconnectedness between the general public and the agrarian transformation and strengthen environmental concern and pro-environmental behavior, the spread of information and environmental education seem to be promising. Finally, to support the development of suitable climate change adaptation strategies relevant knowledge needs to be spread among the farmers to create more climate change awareness. Furthermore, as the financial means of the farmers differ but are associated with being better equipped regarding adaptation measures, especially, the poorer farmers need to receive suitable support when it comes to the adoption of adaptation measures taking potential barriers, e.g. financial means, into account.||de