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Communities in Indonesia’s Tanimbar Archipelago retain strong traditional resource management systems and have a history of resisting exploitation of their fragile islands by outsiders. But Tanimbar is poor and remote, so there is a desire for development. In this presentation, Yves Laumonier describes how a joint project with the International Center for Research in Agricultural Developmnet (CIRAD), CIFOR, and Birdlife Indonesia, successfully combined local concerns and national priorities in land-use planning using an participatory, ecosystem-based approach. The presentation, which has implications for community-based land-use planning in other parts of Indonesia, was given on 6 December 2011 at the 25th international congress of the Society for Conservation Biology. The theme of the congress was ‘Engaging Society in Conservation’ and more than 1,300 scientists, practitioners and students of conservation biology from around the globe attended.