A novel approach for assessing shifting cultivation dynamics in a regional conservation hotspot - insights from nort-eastern Madagascar

Zähringer, Julie Gwendolin; Eckert, Sandra; Hett, Cornelia; Ramamonjisoa, Bruno; Messerli, Peter (2015). A novel approach for assessing shifting cultivation dynamics in a regional conservation hotspot - insights from nort-eastern Madagascar. In: 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology. Abstract Book. 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology (p. 768). Montpellier, France: Society for Conservation Biology

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The north-eastern escarpment of Madagascar has been deemed a global hotspot of biodiversity due to its high levels of endemic speciesbeing heavily threatened by accelerated deforestation rates and landscape changes. The main concern for conservation of the remaining humid primary forests is the shifting cultivation practices of local smallholder farmers for rice production. According to the mainstream narrative, human population growth leads to a shortening of crop-fallow cycles and thus to the accelerated conversion of forests to agricultural land. However, little is currently known about the dynamic changes between forest and shifting cultivation systems at the regional level. Existing land cover change analyses in this area have so far only focused on binary forest to non-forest changes and have therefore failed to account for the dynamic nature of the change processes between forest and different agriculture land use systems. This can be partly explained by the significant challenge to delineate shifting cultivation systems on land cover maps using traditional remote sensing classification approaches. To address this gap we therefore applied a novel GIS approach, that was originally developed for the assessment of shifting cultivation dynamics in Laos and has so far never been applied elsewhere, to map shifting cultivation of different crop-fallow lengths as well as permanent agriculture land use at the regional level. Change analyses of land use maps between 1995 and 2011 allowed us to comprehend the general trends of land use trajectories and their spatial variation. This more detailed understanding of land use change dynamics is key to plan for successful interventions to slow forest loss while at the same time improving local livelihoods. We further believe that this approach holds great potential for conservation monitoring in this resource-rich but povertyprone conservation hotspot.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Geographies of Sustainability > Unit Land Systems and Sustainable Land Management (LS-SLM)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

Graduate School:

International Graduate School North-South (IGS North-South)

UniBE Contributor:

Zähringer, Julie Gwendolin


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics


Society for Conservation Biology




Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

15 Dec 2015 13:10

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:50





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