This study explores the role of gender as a factor in decision making about alternative land use options and in responses to new investment opportunities, which has received little attention to date. An observational study to determine the different factors affecting male and female decisions to change land use at the individual level in a forest margin landscape in Jambi (Sumatra, Indonesia) was combined with a set of role playing games (RPGs) designed to assess participant responses in a simulated social setting of women-only and men-only groups. The RPG included simulated agents offering new oppor- tunities to convert or conserve agroforest. In the study area, rubber (Hevea braziliensis) agroforests that support high biodiversity and carbon storage are giving way to monoculture rubber and oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations. When women from both the upland and lowland villages played the RPGs, external investors proposing logging or oil palmconversion were approached very positively and the resulting land use change was more dynamic and extensive than in the equivalent men-only groups. Consequently, women outperformed men in achieving income targets. In lowland areas gender is strongly associated with land use change, while in the uplands the level of conservation awareness plays a more crucial role in the maintenance of rubber agroforests. Based on the data, and contrary to expectations and gender stereotypes, it is expected that the greater involvement of women in landscape level decision making will increase emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in the area, posing further challenges to efforts to reduce such emissions.
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