Forest fragmentation and livelihood systems, Manompana forest corridor, Madagascar

Understanding deforestation and forest fragmentation from a livelihood perspective

Zora Lea Urech, Julie Gwendolin Zaehringer, Olivia Rickenbach, Jean-Pierre Sorg, Hans Rudolf Felber

Abstract


Worldwide, forests provide a wide variety of resources to rural inhabitants, and especially to the poor. In Madagascar, forest resources make important contributions to the livelihoods of the rural population living at the edges of these forests. Although people benefit from forest resources, forests are continuously cleared and converted into arable land. Despite long-term efforts on the part of researchers, development cooperation projects and government, Madagascar has not been able to achieve a fundamental decrease in deforestation. The question of why deforestation continues in spite of such efforts remains. To answer this question, we aimed at understanding deforestation and forest fragmentation from the perspective of rural households in the Manompana corridor on the east coast. Applying a sustainable livelihood approach, we explored local social-ecological systems to understand: (i) how livelihood strategies leading to deforestation evolve and (ii) how the decrease of forest impacts on households’ strategies. Results highlight the complexity of the environmental, cultural and political context in which households’ decision-making takes place. Further, we found crucial impacts of deforestation and forest fragmentation on livelihood systems, but also recognized that people have been able to adapt to the changing landscapes without major impacts on their welfare.

 

Résumé

Partout dans le monde les forêts fournissent une grande variété de ressources aux habitants des régions rurales, particulièrement aux plus pauvres. À Madagascar, les ressources forestières contribuent dans une grande mesure aux moyens d’existence des populations riveraines des forêts. Cependant, bien que les populations tirent parti des ressources de la forêt, les défrichements ne cessent pas et la conversion des zones boisées en terres cultivables se poursuit. Malgré les efforts entrepris depuis des années par les milieux de la recherche et du développement ainsi que par le gouvernement, Madagascar n’a pas encore connu d’inversion du rythme de la déforestation. Pourquoi les défrichements se poursuivent-ils en dépit des efforts entrepris ? C’est à cette question que nous souhaitons apporter une réponse en essayant de comprendre la déforestation et la fragmentation des forêts en prenant en compte les moyens d’existence des ménages ruraux dans le corridor de Manompana, côte Est de Madagascar. En tirant parti de la méthodologie SLA (sustainable livelihood approach), nous avons analysé les systèmes d’existence des populations locales dans le but de comprendre (i) comment évoluent les stratégies de vie impliquant la déforestation et (ii) quel est l’impact de la diminution des surfaces forestières sur les stratégies de vie des ménages. Les résultats mettent en évidence la complexité du contexte environnemental, culturel et politique dans lequel les ménages sont amenés à prendre leurs décisions. La déforestation et la fragmentation des forêts exercent des impacts cruciaux sur les moyens d’existence des ménages. Cependant, il apparait également que les populations sont en mesure de s’adapter à des modifications des paysages sans que cela n’entraîne d’effets majeurs sur leur bien-être. Notre recherche s’est déroulée dans quatre villages, dont deux proches de grands massifs forestiers, les deux autres éloignés des massifs et voisins de fragments de forêts. D’intéressantes différences ont été mises en évidence entre les deux catégories de villages en ce qui concerne l’interface homme-forêt et la perception du rôle joué par la forêt aujourd’hui et à long terme.

 


Keywords


Madagascar; sustainable livelihood approach; livelihood systems; tropical rain forest; slash-and-burn; deforestation; forest fragmentation

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Madag. conserv. dev.
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