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Flooding and land use change in Jambi Province, Sumatra: integrating local knowledge and scientific inquiry

Jennifer Merten, University of Goettingen, Human Geography, Germany; Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys), Germany
Christian Stiegler, University of Goettingen, Bioclimatology, Germany
Nina Hennings, University of Goettingen, Soil Science of Temperate Ecosystems, Germany
Edwine S. Purnama, University of Goettingen, Forest Inventory and Remote Sensing, Germany
Alexander Röll, University of Goettingen, Tropical Silviculture and Forest Ecology, Germany
Herdhata Agusta, Bogor Agricultural University, Agronomy and Horticulture, Indonesia; Bogor Agricultural University, Surfactant and Bioenergy Research Center (SBRC), Indonesia
Michaela A. Dippold, University of Goettingen, Biogeochemistry of Agroecosystems, Germany; University of Goettingen, Centre of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use (CBL), Germany
Lutz Fehrmann, University of Goettingen, Forest Inventory and Remote Sensing, Germany
Dodo Gunawan, Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics, Center of Climate Change Information, Jakarta, Indonesia
Dirk Hölscher, University of Goettingen, Tropical Silviculture and Forest Ecology, Germany; University of Goettingen, Centre of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use (CBL), Germany
Alexander Knohl, University of Goettingen, Bioclimatology, Germany; University of Goettingen, Centre of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use (CBL), Germany
Johanna Kückes, University of Goettingen, Tropical Silviculture and Forest Ecology, Germany
Fenna Otten, University of Goettingen, Human Geography, Germany
Delphine C. Zemp, University of Goettingen, Biodiversity, Macroecology and Biogeography, Germany
Heiko Faust, University of Goettingen, Human Geography, Germany; University of Goettingen, Centre of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use (CBL), Germany

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11678-250314

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Abstract

The rapid expansion of rubber and oil palm plantations in Jambi Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, is associated with large-scale deforestation and the impairment of many ecosystem services. According to villagers’ observations, this land use change has, together with climate change, led to an increase in the magnitude and frequency of river flood events, which constrain village and plantation development. Based on this empirical societal problem, we investigate whether we can find measurable indications for the presumed linkages between land use change, climate change, and changing flooding regimes. We follow an explorative, bottom-up research approach that builds on a review of multidisciplinary datasets, integrating local ecological knowledge with scientific measurements from soil science, climatology, hydrology, and remote sensing. We found that water levels of one of the largest rivers in Jambi Province, the Tembesi, have increased significantly during the last two decades. Data of local and regional meteorological stations show that alterations in rainfall patterns may only partly explain these changes. Rather, increased soil densities and decreased water infiltration rates in monoculture plantations suggest an increase in surface runoff following forest conversion. Moreover, additional interview data reveal that an increasing encroachment of wetlands in Jambi Province may contribute to changes in local flooding regimes, as the construction of drainage and flood control infrastructure redistributes floodwater at the local scale. We conclude that changing flooding regimes are the result of multiple interacting social-ecological processes associated with the expansion of rubber and oil palm plantations in Jambi Province. Although ecohydrological changes are likely to contribute to an increase of flood occurrence, their social impacts are increasingly mediated through flood control infrastructure on industrial oil palm plantations.

Key words

ecohydrology; flooding; global change; Indonesia; interdisciplinary analysis; land use conversion; local ecological knowledge; oil palm; rubber

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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