RIEL researchers attend CIFOR workshop on Agrarian change
During 30 September to 2 October, Doctoral candidate Ronju Ahammad and RIEL researcher Natasha Stacey participated in the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) led New Agrarian Change Project Workshop in Bogor, Java, Indonesia.
The project is titled “ The new agrarian change? Exploring the dynamic interplay between food security, commodity production, and land-use in tropical forest landscapes”. The project’s aim is to use an integrated landscape approach to explore the livelihood and food security implications of land-use change and agrarian change processes in multi-functional landscapes. The research focuses on the experiences of six landscapes (Ethiopia, Zambia, Cameroon, Burkina Fasi, Indonesia and Bangladesh) that exhibit various combinations of agricultural modification, productivity, changing forest cover or forest use, and integration with global commodity markets. The research will provide much needed insights into how globally conceived land-use strategies (e.g. land sharing/land sparing trajectories) manifest locally, and how they interact with other change processes once they are embedded into local histories, culture, and political and market dynamics.
Some of the questions being addressed by the research program include
1. How is land use changing over time and what are the underlying drivers behind these changes? Are there consistencies/differences between the different landscapes?
2. What are local people’s perceptions of the outcomes of land use change in each landscape in terms of their livelihoods, access to natural resources, land tenure and food security?
3. What is the relationship between land use and local livelihoods and food security (food production, food access, market integration, nutrition, wealth) under different land use scenarios?
The workshop provided an opportunity for RIEL researchers to meet with the six country teams to share preliminary results from field research collected by various methods (e.g. household and farm surveys, focus group discussions and PRA tools). Ronju presented on his scoping study conducted over the last few months in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region of Bangladesh. His findings show that historical land use changes in region have diverse effects on livelihoods in terms of declining food security and loss of natural resources. There is a mismatch between national policy, overharvesting of the forest resources and traditional shifting cultivation largely causing major land use changes in this region. Natural forest cover has declined and this has had profound impact on rural livelihoods regarding provisioning ecosystems services such as food, energy, water as well as other indirect impacts for sustaining the ecosystem services in this landscape. However sustainable forest benefits and capacity to provide ecosystem services in the long-run are still challenged due to existing uses, management and land use practices in the region. Understanding the relative contributions of forest and agriculture land uses, changes in land uses and their effects on livelihoods at landscape scale are of local, regional and national priority. The results of the scoping study have been assessed to identify areas for more indepth surveys to be conducted over the next three months across three different zones. The University of British Columbia Geomatics team are providing Ronju with support for land use change analysis using remote sensing.
The meeting also allowed participants to a chat informally, discuss data analysis methodology with the CIFOR team and project partners, share results and emerging trends in data sets and discuss opportunities for collaborative overview publications.
Scoping reports from the six countries including Ronju’s study in Bangladesh will be published as a book by CIFOR. The book will be launched at the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris (5-6 December, 2015).
On Day 2 of the Meeting, participants also had opportunity to talk informally during a field trip to the Gede Pangrango National Park in Chobodas, West Java.
The Program is led by Dr Terry Sunderland Principal Scientist, Forests and Livelihoods Program from CIFOR and is funded by USAID and UK AID. More information on the Program can be found at www.cifor.org and Ronju’s home page http://riel.cdu.edu.au/people/profile/ronju-ahammad