Natural rainforest, Kinabalu park, Malaysia © Mrfiza, Adobe Stock

Southeast Asian Islands

In the Southeast Asian island countries, research by CIRAD and its public- and private-sector partners centres on natural resource management, biodiversity and the sustainability of tree crop-based systems, paying particular attention to the region's island agro-ecosystems, which are particularly sensitive to climate change.

Reconciling agricultural development and sustainable tropical forests

 

Balinese farmer © A. Rival, CIRAD

Balinese farmer © A. Rival, CIRAD

In the Southeast Asian islands, more than anywhere else, the fate of tropical forests is strongly dependent on agricultural policy. Agricultural development in the region  must be analysed in terms not just of its positive contribution to food security, but of its impact on those forests.
Research is therefore aiming to reconcile food security and the preservation of natural areas. CIRAD's operations and those of its partners centre on ecological intensification and the switch to sustainable, zero-deforestation agricultural management techniques.
Agricultural teaching and training must now allow for the commitments made by governments and private operators in terms of climate change management and forest preservation.

CIRAD's Regional Office for the Southeast Asian Islands covers a vast maritime region of more than 17 000 islands with an area of 2554 million km2 and a population of 420 million. CIRAD has around ten expatriate researchers assigned to four countries in the region: Malaysia, the Philippines, East Timor, and above all Indonesia. It also conducts missions to Singapore and Brunei.

Strengthening regional cooperation with universities and research centres

CIRAD's Regional Office is in Jakarta, Indonesia. It shares its offices with the IRD representative in Indonesia.

CIRAD's researchers work within university research teams (Universiti Putra Malaisia), or are hosted by CGIAR international centres (CIFOR in Indonesia, IRRI in the Philippines) or by private research centres (PT SMART in Indonesia). The training programmes in which it is involved give its work a regional dimension, and are paving the way for future partnerships.

Emblematic projects and platforms in partnership for research and training

The dots show the countries in which CIRAD and its partners work. They do not show specific sites.

Key figures

  • 10 expatriate researchers
  • 10 PhD and Masters students supervised per year
  • 100 missions per year

Main research fields

Measuring photosynthesis on an oil palm leaf in Indonesia © A. Rival, CIRAD

Measuring photosynthesis on an oil palm leaf in Indonesia © A. Rival, CIRAD

  • Genomics, genetics and crop protection
  • Natural resource management
  • Sustainable tree crop production systems
  • Support for family farming
  • Public policy support

A word from our partners...

Le CIFOR a une longue collaboration avec le Cirad (débutée en 1997 avec les questions d’exploitation à impact réduit). Cette collaboration est d’une grande valeur pour le CIFOR, car nous sommes intrinsèquement complémentaires dans nos approches et nos capacités. La présence depuis plusieurs années de chercheurs du Cirad sur les sites du CIFOR et de chercheurs CIFOR sur les sites Cirad a permis d’enrichir fortement nos deux institutions. Un bel exemple de collaboration internationale en recherche pour le développement, où le tout est bien plus que la somme des parts. 

Dr Robert Nasi
CIFOR Director General, Indonesia

Depuis plus de 20 ans, HUTAN s’efforce de trouver des solutions pour que les orang-outangs, les éléphants et autres espèces animales survivent dans le bassin de la Kinabatangan, une région unique et importante pour la biodiversité de Bornéo. Nos recherches montrent que pour éviter la disparition de ces espèces emblématiques il est urgent d’identifier des modes de gestion rationnelle des zones non protégées, afin de permettre la survie et le maintien de populations saines et viables. Comprendre comment certaines espèces s’adaptent et survivent dans des paysages agricoles dominés par des plantations de palmiers à huile est une clef pour réussir. Dans le cadre du projet TRAILS, notre collaboration avec le Cirad nous permet d’analyser et de mieux comprendre comment les paysages agro-forestiers dominés par des plantations de palmiers à huile pourraient s’intégrer dans des stratégies de conservation d’espèces menacées.

Dr Marc Ancrenaz
Scientific Director, HUTAN NGO, Malaysia

Some key projects

The Southeast Asian islands offer a unique range of agroecological situations and island systems with substantial biodiversity, providing a particularly attractive opportunity for building joint projects of international importance, capable of addressing novel, relevant scientific issues. The projects under way (TALENT - Sustainable Landscape Management in Indonesia, TRAILS in Malaysia) concern fundamental issues around sustainable development raised by civil society in Europe and in Asia (urbanization, the rural exodus, preservation of fragile ecosystems).

Limiting tropical deforestation caused by tree crop planting in Southeast Asia: the TRAILS project

Young plant in a forest regeneration nursery in Sabah (Malaysia) © A. Rival, CIRAD

Young plant in a forest regeneration nursery in Sabah (Malaysia) © A. Rival, CIRAD

The TRAILS research project launched recently in Malaysia aims to provide innovative solutions to limit tropical deforestation as a result of tree crop planting in Southeast Asia. Reforesting and rehabilitating riverside zones is vitally important to conserve wildlife and improve local ecosystems in landscapes dominated by rubber, eucalyptus, or oil palm plantations. Moreover, managing those plantations means adopting agroecological approaches centring on environmental services. It is therefore necessary to design new planting schemes that make clever use of forest species. These innovative agroforestry systems should be assessed to determine their ability to conserve threatened species (orangutans, elephants and big cats), their socioeconomic sustainability, and their capacity to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The TRAILS project is built on a complementary partnership associating academics, NGOs, and private and public players, enabling an approach that encompasses a range of scientific fields, from agronomy and forestry to veterinary science and includes detailed socioeconomic studies of local people's livelihoods (smallholders, forest rangers and plantation workers). the aim is to characterize various types of agroforests with different densities and variable plantation:forest ratios in Malaysia (Sabah).

Installing sustainable agroforestry in East Timor: the Ai'ba Futuru project

Teaching and training

The vast majority of CIRAD researchers in the region are involved in training students and French and local researchers.

Young manager presenting her research results. ANJ Plantation, Kalimantan, Indonesia. © A. Rival, CIRAD

Young manager presenting her research results. ANJ Plantation, Kalimantan, Indonesia. © A. Rival, CIRAD

Rejuvenating training of plantation managers

The Agence française de développement (AFD) and CIRAD have committed to promote sustainable agricultural plantation and planted forest management in four countries belonging to the Association of the South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN). TheTALENT (TrAining on LandscapE maNagemenT) programme has 1.2 million euros of funding from the Fonds pour l’expertise et les échanges d’expériences (FEXTE).
Over the coming five years, CIRAD will be supporting skill building in those four ASEAN countries  (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam). This will mean consolidating the existing training structures to train new generations of plantation managers, teaching them how to boost plantation productivity and sustainability.
After an initial nine-month feasibility study, the project will support the existing structures providing initial training for Masters students and further training for managers already working (for large plantations, smallholder cooperatives and banks providing agricultural funding). Training courses will centre on agroecology, environmental and social management, and how to take account of climate change and biodiversity. In addition to its operations for students, the project will organize regional workshops to raise awareness and allow participants to share their experiences and good practice.

Scientific publications

See all publications
Southeast Asian rice © CIRAD

Contact

CIRAD Regional Office for the Southeast Asian Islands -
Jean-Marc Roda
Graha Kapital 1 - Jl. Kemang Raya no. 4 -
Jakarta 12730 - Indonesia

Tel.: +62 21 71 98 641/642
Fax: +62 21 71 79 46 52

E-mail