Kehlenbeck, K., H.S. Arifin, and B.L. Maass, 2007. Plant Diversity in Homegardens in a Socio-Economic and Agro-Ecological Context. In: T. Tscharntke, M. Zeller and C. Leuschner (Eds), The Stability of Tropical Rainforest Margins: Linking Ecological, Economic and Social Constraints. Springer Verlag, Gottingen, Germany. 297-320p.

Part II Sustainable management of agroforestry systems

“Plant diversity in homegardens in a socio-economic and agro-ecological context”

Katja Kehlenbeck 1)*, Hadi Susilo Arifin 2), and Brigitte L. Maass 1)

1) Institute for Crop and Animal Production in the Tropics, Georg-August-University, Grisebachstr. 6, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany
2) Department of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Agriculture, Bogor Agicultural University (IPB), Bogor, Indonesia

* Author for correspondence (tel. +49-511-393750, e-mail:

Homegardens are generally regarded as a very complex, species-rich agroforestry system managed in a sustainable manner over decades or even centuries. In many densely populated tropical regions, homegardens appear to be the last forest-like islands surrounded by increasingly extended, uniform staple crop fields. In these areas, homegardens with their multi-layered vegetation structure serve as an important habitat for wild flora and fauna. Homegardens fulfil not only important ecological, but also many social and cultural functions. However, the major purposes of homegardens are subsistence production and income generation, particularly in rural areas. At forest margins, high production levels in homegardens could help to reduce deforestation. Furthermore, homegardens should be considered as a model for sustainable agroforestry systems, integrating both economic and ecological advantages. Plant diversity is influenced by a combination of agro-ecological as well as socio-economic factors. The complex interactions of all these factors are not yet fully understood. This paper presents an overview of the existing knowledge and identifies gaps regarding the factors determining plant species diversity and composition in homegardens. We further illustrate this with two case studies from Indonesia (Central Sulawesi and West Java), in which temporal and spatial variations were investigated. In conclusion, diversity of useful plants was mainly influenced by elevation as well as commercialisation, urbanisation, and fragmentation. It was fairly dynamic over time, particularly when commercialisation was possible. To preserve the sustainability of homegardens and their suitability for in-situ conservation of plant genetic resources, any promotion to intensify production in homegardens should consider the overall ecological functioning of the system in a landscape context.

Keywords: Agro-biodiversity, Agro-ecosystem, Agroforestry, Commercialisation, Function, Homegarden, In situ conservation, Plant diversity, Plant genetic resources, Species composition, Sustainability, Urbanisation, Vegetation structure, Vegetation dynamics