Forest resources remain vital to the survival of many rural communities, though the level of forest reliance varies across a range of sites and socio-economic settings. This article investigates variation in forest utilization across households in three ethnic groups living near a forest restoration area in Sumatra, Indonesia. Survey data were collected on 268 households, with a four-month recall period and three repeat visits to each selected household within a year. Random sampling was applied to select households in five villages and five Batin Sembilan (indigenous) semi-nomadic groups. Sampled households belonged to three ethnic groups: 15% were Batin Sembilan, 40% Local Malayan, and 45% Immigrant households. Indigenous households displayed the highest reliance on forests: 36% of their annual total income came from this source, as compared with 10% and 8% for Local and Immigrant households, respectively. Our findings showed that the livelihoods of indigenous groups were still intricately linked with forest resources, despite a rapid landscape-wide transition from natural forest to oil palm and timber plantations.
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