A landscape mosaics approach for characterizing swidden systems from a REDD+.

Applied Geography (Impact Factor: 3.08). 03/2012; 32(2):608-618. DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2011.07.011


Swidden agriculture is often deemed responsible for deforestation and forest degradation in tropical regions, yet swidden landscapes are commonly not visible on land cover/use maps, making it difficult to prove this assertion. For a future REDD+ scheme, the correct identification of deforestation and forest degradation and linking these processes to land use is crucial. However, it is a key challenge to distinguish degradation and deforestation from temporal vegetation dynamics inherent to swiddening. In this article we present an approach for spatial delineation of swidden systems based on landscape mosaics. Furthermore we introduce a classification for change processes based on the change matrix of these landscape mosaics. Our approach is illustrated by a case study in Viengkham district in northern Laos. Over a 30-year time period the swidden landscapes have increased in extent and they have degraded, shifting from long crop-fallow cycles to short cycles. From 2007 to 2009 degradation within the swidden system accounted for half of all the landscape mosaics change processes. Pioneering shifting cultivation did not prevail. The landscape mosaics approach could be used in a swidden compatible monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system of a future REDD+ framework.

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    • "The diversity of species assemblages within these heterogeneous shifting cultivation mosaics have been shown in many cases to be higher than under conditions of contiguous mature forest cover (Xu et al. 2009). Swidden systems incorporate a broad diversity of species and cultivars both within the cropping area as well as in fallows in order to provide for diverse dietary needs of shifting cultivators, to spread risk in the event of crop failure, and to distribute labour requirements (Hett et al. 2012;Schiller et al. 2006). Ethnobotanical surveys of similar upland swidden landscapes in the region found an average of 60–70 domesticated and semi-domesticated species in upland rice fields and a further 25 species which had been incorporated into adjacent fallow lands (Rerkasem et al. 2009), presenting a much higher degree of agrobiodiversity than intensive, sedentary agricultural alternatives. "
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    ABSTRACT: Forested landscapes play a critical role in mitigating climate change by sequestering carbon while at the same time fostering adaption by supporting ecosystem services, the recognition of which is reflected in the recent Paris Agreement on climate change. It has been suggested, therefore, that the conservation of forested landscapes may provide a potential win-win in the fight against global environmental change. Despite the potential synergies between mitigation and adaptation efforts, recent studies have also raised concerns about possible trade-offs. Our research employs the analytic lens of social-ecological resilience to explore the intersection between mitigation and adaptation in the context of a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) project in Lao PDR. Drawing on ecosystem analyses, group discussions and interviews with policy makers, practitioners and resource dependent communities, we identify three potential limitations of REDD for achieving climate synergies. First, by disrupting existing disturbance regimes, REDD interventions run the risk of reducing diversity and structural heterogeneity and thus may undermine functional redundancy core to resilience. Second, REDD-as-practiced has tended to select local, rather than structural, drivers of deforestation, focusing disproportionately on curtailing local livelihood practices, reducing local resources for adaptation. Third, REDD risks redirecting ecosystem service benefits away from local communities toward state agencies, incentivizing recentralization and limiting the scope of local governance. We argue that REDD’s potential for delivering synergies between climate change mitigation and adaptation in Laos is currently attenuated by structural factors rooted in development policies and broader political-economic trajectories in ways that may not be legible to, or adequately addressed by, current programmes and policy.
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    • "However, this presents critical methodological challenges. First, it requires evaluation of the dynamic change in both forest cover and land use configurations through time [20] [21]. The data required to support such analyses are often not available over extended time periods and at broad spatial extents. "
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    ABSTRACT: A multifunctional landscape approach to forest protection has been advocated for tropical countries. Designing such landscapes necessitates that the role of different land uses in protecting forest be evaluated, along with the spatial interactions between land uses. However, such evaluations have been hindered by a lack of suitable analysis methodologies and data with fine spatial resolution over long time periods. We demonstrate the utility of a matching method with multiple categories to evaluate the role of alternative land uses in protecting forest. We also assessed the impact of land use change trajectories on the rate of deforestation. We employed data from Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) at three different time periods during 2000-2012 to illustrate our approach. Four single land uses (protected areas, natural forest logging concessions, timber plantation concessions and oil-palm plantation concessions) and two mixed land uses (mixed concessions and the overlap between concessions and protected areas) were assessed. The rate of deforestation was found to be lowest for protected areas, followed by natural forest logging concessions. Deforestation rates for all land uses tended to be highest for locations that share the characteristics of areas in which timber or oil-palm plantation concessions are located (e.g. degraded areas), suggesting that these areas are inherently more susceptible to deforestation due to foregone opportunities. Our approach provides important insights into how multifunctional landscapes can be designed to enhance the protection of biodiversity.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Environmental Research Letters
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    • "In contrast, monitoring deforestation associated with subsistence agriculture poses a greater challenge, since the disturbances are smaller and the long-term net carbon outcomes less certain (Ziegler et al., 2012). Small-scale deforestation therefore requires investigation at a finer scale, such as through the use of very high resolution imagery, or through other innovative spatial techniques, such as classifying change processes using " landscape mosaics " (Hett et al., 2012). Conversely, forest degradation processes and their specific drivers are more difficult to detect through remote sensing. "

    Full-text · Chapter · Dec 2015
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