Emilio Valeri and Adinda Rizky, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia
In these challenging times, communities on Seram Island, in Maluku, seek different alternatives to improve their livelihoods. After several years of observation and work with local communities, we have observed changes in cultivation and marketing of spices, essential oils, and other traded goods. What could be the best way forward? Can markets drive the future of an island in transition? The Government of Maluku is trying to revive the idea of Spice Islands trade and essential oils that are known originally from the Maluku Islands. These may provide opportunities for communities in the islands of Maluku, but can they compete with the demand for land for agriculture, biofuels, mega food production, and mining? Investment coming into the island includes cacao, oil palm, sugar cane, and shrimp farming and this will change the land use system and the culture of the island with its important and high endemic biodiversity. How have traditional communities fared in the face of COVID-19 in comparison with communities connected to global supply chains?
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