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Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


Large mammal populations theoretically are best conserved in landscapes where large protected areas are surrounded by buffer zones, connected by corridors, and integrated into a greater ecosystem. Multi-use buffer zones, including those containing complex agroforestry systems, are promoted as one strategy to provide both economic benefits to people and conservation benefits to wildlife. We use the island of Sumatra, Indonesia to explore the benefits and limitations of this strategy. We conclude that conservation benefits are accrued by expanding the habitat available for large mammals but more attention needs to be focused on how to reduce and respond to human–wildlife conflict that is likely to occur in these multiple use areas. Agroforestry systems are likely to play an increasingly valuable role in the conservation of large mammalian species. We believe this value can be increased still further if the agroforestry community decides to assume a leadership role in addressing the issue of human–wildlife conflict, which is fast becoming a central threat to the survival of many large endangered species like tigers and elephants. Both people and wildlife can benefit enormously if appropriate methods are developed to more rigorously define the distribution and frequency of conflict between tigers and elephants with people along the edge of protected areas. Sharp forest–agriculture boundaries may reduce tiger–human conflicts, but not elephant–human conflict according to the data we currently have.



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