Abstract: The United Nations and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change deem many regions of southern Africa as vulnerable landscapes due to changing climatic regimes, ecological conditions, and low adaptive capacity. Typically in highly vulnerable regions, multiple livelihood strategies are employed to enable sustainable development. In Botswana, livelihood strategies have diversified over time to include tourism and other non-agricultural activities. While such diversification and development have been studied, little is known about how locals perceive livelihood risks. This article analyzes perceptions of risk through a risk hazards framework. During the summer of 2010, 330 surveys were completed within seven villages in northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip of Namibia. During the survey respondents were asked to list the biggest threats/challenges to their livelihoods. Responses were grouped into categories of risk according to the capital assets on which livelihoods depend: natural, physical, financial, human, and social. A risk mapping procedure was utilized, for which indices of severity, incidence, and risk were calculated. It is hypothesized that people’s perception of risk is directly dependent on environmental conditions and employment status of the household. Results indicate that problems related to natural and financial assets are the greatest source of risk to livelihoods. Furthermore, flood, drought, and other measures of climate variability are perceived as influential, typically negatively, to livelihood strategies.
Abstract: Vegetation and land-cover changes are not always directional but follow complex trajectories over space and time, driven by changing anthropogenic and abiotic conditions.We present a multi-observational approach to land-change analysis that addresses the complex geographic and temporal variability of vegetation changes related to climate and land use. Using land-ownership data as a proxy for land-use practices, multitemporal land-cover maps, and repeat photography dating to the late 19th century, we examine changing spatial and temporal distributions of two vegetation types with high conservation value in the southwestern United States: grasslands and riparian vegetation. In contrast to many reported vegetation changes, notably shrub encroachment in desert grasslands, we found an overall increase in grassland area and decline of xeroriparian and riparian vegetation. These observed change patterns were neither temporally directional nor spatially uniform over the landscape. Historical data suggest that long-term vegetation changes coincide with broad climate fluctuations while fine-scale patterns are determined by land-management practices. In some cases, restoration and active management appear to weaken the effects of climate on vegetation; therefore, if land managers in this region act in accord with on-going directional changes, the current drought and associated ecological reorganization may provide an opportunity to achieve desired restoration endpoints.
Abstract: Residents of Southern Africa depend on rangeland for food, livelihoods, and ecosystem services. Sustainable management of rangeland ecosystems requires attention to interactive effects of fire and grazing in a changing climate. It is essential to compare rangeland responses to fire and grazing across space and through time to understand the effects of rangeland management practices on biodiversity and ecosystem services in an era of global climate change. We propose a paradigm of ecologically-analogous rangeland management within the context of multifunctional landscapes to guide design and application of ecosystem-based rangeland research in Southern Africa. We synthesize range science from the North American Great Plains and Southern African savannas into a proposal for fire and grazing research on rangeland in Southern Africa. We discuss how management for the fire-grazing interaction might advance multiple goals including agricultural productivity, biodiversity conservation, and resilience to increased variability under global change. Finally, we discuss several ecological and social issues important to the effective development of sustainable rangeland practices especially within the context of global climate change. The associated literature review serves as a comprehensive bibliography for sustainable rangeland management and development across the savanna biomes of Southern Africa.
Abstract: The objective of this article was to develop a deeper understanding of the interdependences between smallholder farming and the state of environmental management in rural Malawi. We examined the agricultural local governance framework in Malingunde Extension Planning Area (EPA), its contribution to food security and how it conflicts with overall land and forest resources management. The charcoal production process was discussed in line with its implications for agricultural production and environmental sustainability. The smallholder households employ inappropriate land management practices, engage in agricultural production on unsuitable land and use fertile soils, timber and firewood for brick production and construction and secondly engage in charcoal production (deforestation) as a coping mechanism against food deficiency. However, while detrimental in its own right, this environmental degradation in the area cannot be explicitly pinned to, for instance, the total charcoal supply being out of balance with wood stocks or insufficient land. It is, rather, usually due to failures to provide incentives to manage land and forest resources in a manner that allows regeneration of both the soils and wood stocks in the area. An improvement in the quality and quantity of the smallholder agriculture sector production would promote significantly the environmental management efforts.
Abstract: Estimating deforested areas and deforestation rates have become key steps for quantifying environmental services of tropical rain forests, particularly as linked to programs such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). In Southeastern Peru, reliable estimates of land-cover change (LCC) are important for monitoring changes in the landscape due to agricultural expansion, pasture creation and other socio-economic influences triggered by the Inter-Oceanic Highway (IOH). Our study reports a land-use/land-cover change (LULCC) analysis during a 15-year period from 1996 to 2011 in the Province of Tahuamanu, Madre de Dios. We draw on multiple years of observations of LULCC to relate changes in land cover to the use of natural resources (pasture, timber, crops and forest products) and tenure types based on their distances from the highway and the Tahuamanu River. We are able to distinguish titled areas for agriculture close to the IOH from other land tenure types such as timber concessions. The findings show that LULCC varies among different types of land tenure and by distance from the highway. Agricultural areas close to transportation infrastructure within 1 km to 5 km buffers have gradually increased in non-forest areas, whereas timber concession areas away from 1 km buffer of secondary roads have maintained forest cover. Riverine settlements show a similar distance effect in forest clearance along rivers as along roads.
Abstract: This research extends upon land cover change studies by incorporating methodological approaches, which are compatible with heterogeneous ecosystems, are able to link landscape changes to system processes, such as climate change, and provide potential linkages to concepts of ecological resilience. The study region in southern Africa experienced a significant climatic shift in the 1970s, resulting in drier conditions. The state of these ecosystems and their response to such climatic shock is quantified in terms of vegetation amount and heterogeneity. We monitor these characteristics pre- and post-disturbance using a Landsat image series and examine the utility of continuous characterizations of land cover for measuring ecosystem resilience. Land cover change is evaluated using a mean-variance analysis in concert with a spatial persistence analysis. This investigation indicates that although the impact of the decreased precipitation is evident in the 1980s, recovery occurred by the 1990s and 2000s. We found the continuous methodological approach used holds potential for studying heterogeneous landscapes within a resilience framework.