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“Nothing Is Like It Was Before”: The Dynamics between Land-Use and Land-Cover, and Livelihood Strategies in the Northern Vietnam Borderlands

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Department of Geography, McGill University, 805 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montréal, QC H3A 0B9, Canada
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Urbaines et Touristiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, 315 rue Sainte-Catherine Est, Montréal, QC H2X 3X2, Canada
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Claudia A. Radel and Jacqueline M. Vadjunec
Land 2015, 4(4), 1030-1059; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4041030
Received: 28 July 2015 / Revised: 6 November 2015 / Accepted: 9 November 2015 / Published: 18 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods)
Land uses are changing rapidly in Vietnam’s upland northern borderlands. Regional development platforms such as the Greater Mekong Subregion, state-propelled market integration and reforestation programs, and lowland entrepreneurs and migrants are all impacting this frontier landscape. Drawing on a mixed methods approach using remote sensing data from 2000 to 2009 and ethnographic fieldwork, we examine how land-use and land-cover change (LULCC) has occurred across three borderland provinces—Lai Châu, Lào Cai and Hà Giang—with high proportions of ethnic minority semi-subsistence farmers. After a broad examination of regional land-use changes, we select three case studies to further analyze the underlying relationships between specific LULCC and local livelihood diversification strategies. These include specific patterns of urban growth due to a range of political decisions in Lai Châu and Lào Cai Provinces; reforestation due to non-timber forest (NTFP) product cultivation in the west of Lào Cai Province; and a stable landscape that restricts government attempts at refashioning upland livelihoods in the east of Hà Giang. Our findings point to the difficulties of completing LULCC maps for this highly heterogeneous region and the complexity of LULCC and livelihood interactions and relationships examined on the ground. View Full-Text
Keywords: livelihood diversification; ethnic minorities; northern Vietnam; land-use and land-cover change; reforestation; cardamom; urbanization; mixed methods livelihood diversification; ethnic minorities; northern Vietnam; land-use and land-cover change; reforestation; cardamom; urbanization; mixed methods
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Turner, S.; Pham, T.-T.-H. “Nothing Is Like It Was Before”: The Dynamics between Land-Use and Land-Cover, and Livelihood Strategies in the Northern Vietnam Borderlands. Land 2015, 4, 1030-1059.

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