Agrarian Change in Tropical Landscapes – A Change for the Better?

The expansion of agriculture has resulted in large-scale habitat loss, fragmentation of forests, and simplification of natural ecosystems, significant losses in biological diversity and negative impacts on many ecosystem services. Here, we describe detailed socio-ecological research methods to assess the livelihood impacts of agrarian change across the forest transition in six tropical landscapes in Zambia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Bangladesh. These methods include integrated assessments of the perceptions of ecosystem service provision, tree cover loss and gain, relative poverty, diets and agricultural patterns of change. Although numerous surveys on rural livelihoods are undertaken each year, often at great cost, many are hampered by weaknesses in methods and thus may not reflect rural realities. This paper attempts to highlight how integrating broader socio-ecological methods can be used to fill in those gaps and ensure such realities are indeed captured. Early findings suggest that the transition from a forested landscape to a more agrarian dominated system does not immediately result in better livelihood outcomes and there may be unintended consequences of forest and tree cover removal. These include the loss of access to grazing land, less diverse diets, increased poverty and the loss of ecosystem services.


The presentation will be based on our recent publication:
Agrarian change in tropical landscapes

For powerpoint, click here.