Dawson, Terence P. and Ingram, J. Carter
Sustainable livelihoods and forest resources in Madagascar: A multi-scale analysis of resilience using remote sensing
Journal of Integrative Environmental Research, 5, (2), . (doi:10.1080/15693430801912188).
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Madagascar, as much of sub-Saharan Africa, suffers from highly variable and unpredictable climate, and human societies, as well as the natural ecosystems upon which they depend, have evolved and adapted to cope with this to some degree since humans populated the island some 2000 years BP. In Madagascar, humans are an integral component of most landscapes and, thus, may be identified as social-ecological systems (SES). In the SES of southeast Madagascar, the littoral forests provide important ecological services for local communities, including food, energy, medicines and construction materials. Indeed, for many of the rural poor, these forests act as a critical safety net during times of shock, for example, crop failure arising from extreme climate events, such as drought or during seasonally 'lean' periods. Assessing the sustainability of natural resource use requires resolving appropriate spatial and temporal scales for establishing a baseline assessment. This study presents a synthesis of remote sensing techniques at multiple spatial and temporal scales combined with climatic data and information collected during ecological field surveys within a SES framework to decouple natural variability from anthropogenic processes acting upon forest ecosystems. An integration of this data into the SES framework yields useful insights on the provenance and temporal nature of drivers of change in these systems. A more systematic understanding of the nature and intensity of the drivers of environmental change, such as that proposed here, can help inform human development and conservation management decisions that support sustainable livelihoods and the conservation of natural resources.
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