Land2014, 3(3), 1137-1157; doi:10.3390/land3031137 (registering DOI) - published 16 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In many Sub-Saharan African countries, fuelwood collection is among the most important drivers of deforestation and particularly forest degradation. In a detailed field study in the Kafa region of southern Ethiopia, we assessed the potential of efficient cooking stoves to mitigate the negative impacts of fuelwood harvesting on forests. Eleven thousand improved cooking stoves (ICS), specifically designed for baking Ethiopia’s staple food injera, referred to locally as “Mirt” stoves, have been distributed here. We found a high acceptance rate of the stove. One hundred forty interviews, including users and non-users of the ICS, revealed fuelwood savings of nearly 40% in injera preparation compared to the traditional three-stone fire, leading to a total annual savings of 1.28 tons of fuelwood per household. Considering the approximated share of fuelwood from unsustainable sources, these savings translate to 11,800 tons of CO2 saved for 11,156 disseminated ICS, corresponding to the amount of carbon stored in over 30 ha of local forest. We further found that stove efficiency increased with longer injera baking sessions, which shows a way of optimizing fuelwood savings by adapted usage of ICS. Our study confirms that efficient cooking stoves, if well adapted to the local cooking habits, can make a significant contribution to the conservation of forests and the avoidance of carbon emission from forest clearing and degradation.
Land2014, 3(3), 1091-1136; doi:10.3390/land3031091 - published 9 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Adelaide-Mt Lofty Region of South Australia is an exemplar, in microcosm, of the issues confronting biodiversity conservation in a world of increasing population and a drying, fire-prone environment. At just 0.1% of Australia’s terrestrial land mass, this area is largely peninsular and oriented along a spine of ranges to 730-m elevation. Annual average rainfall varies from over 1100 mm in the hills to less than 500 mm on the plains in the north. The original vegetation varied from grasslands to shrublands to grassy and shrubby woodlands to forests, but now includes a major capital city and a mixed farming hinterland. Biodiversity in the region is in decline, and many species’ extinctions have been recorded. With increasing population and a drying climate, fire antecedents, like ignition and fire danger, are predicted to increase the area burned in the wetter regions, but such predictions may be offset by increasing the fire protection of the expanding population and their economic and social assets. While the existing system of many small reserves will remain the backbone of biodiversity conservation in the region, wider recognition of the all-tenure, whole-of-landscape, whole-of-community approach to biodiversity conservation and fire management is needed if the probability of further extinctions is to be reduced.
Land2014, 3(3), 1075-1090; doi:10.3390/land3031075 - published 3 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Sahel has been the focus of scientific interest in environmental-human dynamics and interactions. The objective of the present study is to contribute to the recent debate on the re-greening of Sahel. The paper examines the dynamics of barren land in the Sahel of Burkina Faso through analysis of remotely-sensed and rainfall data from 1975–2011. Discussions with farmers and land management staff have helped to understand the anthropogenic efforts toward soil restoration to enable the subsistence farming agriculture. Results showed that area of barren land has been fluctuating during the study period with approximately 10-year cyclicity. Similarly, rainfall, both at national and local levels has followed the same trends. The trends of the area of barren land and rainfall variability suggest that when rainfall increases, the area of barren land decreases and barren land increases when rainfall decreases. This implies that rainfall is one of the main factors driving the change in area of barren land. In addition, humans have contributed positively and negatively to the change by restoring barren lands for agriculture using locally known techniques and by accelerating land degradation through intensive and inappropriate land use practices.
Land2014, 3(3), 1059-1074; doi:10.3390/land3031059 - published 1 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The rapid economic growth in Lao PDR over the last two decades has been driven by the natural resource sectors and commercialization in the agriculture sector. Rural landscapes are being transformed over the past decade from land use mosaics of subsistence and smallholder farms to large-scale plantations dominated by a few commercial crops. The capacity of these commercial agriculture plantations to alleviate rural poverty, part of the Government of Lao PDR’s national development policy, is increasingly weighed against its long-term impacts on ecosystem services and sustainability of land and forest resources. We used an extended cost-benefit approach (CBA) to integrate certain environmental elements to traditional financial analysis for a comparative look at four land use systems in the northern part of the country. The CBA results demonstrate that commercial agriculture (maize and rubber plantations) does have the potential to support poverty alleviation in the short-run. It, however, exposes the land to serious environmental risks. By comparison, the traditional land uses studied (upland rice farming and non-timber forest products collecting) are largely subsistence activities that are still considered as sustainable, though this is increasingly affected by changing market and population dynamics. The results suggest that longer-term environmental costs can potentially cancel out short-term gains from the commercialization to mono-crop agriculture. Incentives for conserving ecosystem services (such as the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism) may have a potential role in supporting diversification of traditional livelihoods and increasing the competitiveness of maintaining forests.
Land2014, 3(3), 1037-1058; doi:10.3390/land3031037 - published 22 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Currently, many studies on benefit sharing mechanisms (BSM) and the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation programme (REDD+) focus on poverty alleviation and livelihood development. However, relatively few studies incorporate an integrated livelihood framework. This study employs the sustainable livelihoods framework to assess the impact of BSM in Vietnam. The lessons learned could be used in creating social safeguards for REDD+. The communities in Central Vietnam involved in BSM were impacted by the programme on various dimensions. These dimensions, expressed in different types of capital, are interconnected and contribute to a person’s well-being. While the communities have restricted access to their natural forests, they benefited in terms of income diversification, knowledge improvement and network expansion. On the other hand, they faced food insecurity, they were more vulnerable to natural hazards, and their human, social and cultural capital faced risk of deterioration.
Land2014, 3(3), 1015-1036; doi:10.3390/land3031015 - published 22 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A stepwise multi regression-based statistics was employed for prioritizing the influence of several factors, anthropogenic and/or natural, on the ERA15 temperature increments. The 5 factors that are defined as predictors are: topography, aerosol index (TOMS-AI), tropospheric vertical velocity along with two anthropogenic factors, population density and land use changes (Land Use Change Index (LUCI) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) trends). The seismic hazard assessment factor was also chosen as the “dummy variable” for validity. Special focus was given to the land use change factor, which was based on two different data sets; Human Impacts on Terrestrial Ecosystems(HITE) data of historical land use/land cover data and of NDVI trends during 1982 and 1991. The increment analysis updates of temperature, increments analysis update (IAU) (T), the predicted variable, was obtained from the ERA15 (1979–1993) reanalysis. The research consists of both spatial and vertical analyses, as well as the potential synergies of selected variables. The spatial geographic analysis is divided into three categories; (1) coarse region; (2) subregion analysis; and (c) a “small cell” of 4° × 4° analysis covering the global domain. It is shown that the following three factors, topography, TOMS-AI and NDVI, are statistically significant (at the p < 0.05 level) in the relationship with the IAU (T), which means that they are the most effective predictors of IAU (T), especially at the 700-hPa level during March–June. The 850-hPa level presents the weakest contribution to IAU (T), probably due to the contradicting influences of the various variables at this level. It was found that the land use effect, as expressed by the NDVI trends factor, shows a strong decrease with height and is one of the most influential near-surface factors over the East Mediterranean (EM), which explains up to 20% of the temperature increments in January at 700 hPa. Moreover, its influence is significant (p < 0.05) through all of the different stages of the multiple regression runs, a major finding not quantified earlier. The choice of monthly means was found to be not optimal, particularly for the tropospheric vertical velocity, due to the averaging of the synoptic systems within a month.