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Integrated landscape analyses of change of miombo woodland in Tanzania and its implication for environment and human livelihood
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Ecological Botany.
2009 (English)In: Geografiska Annaler. Series A, Physical Geography, ISSN 0435-3676, E-ISSN 1468-0459, Vol. 91A, no 1, 31-45 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Landscapes bear witness to past and present natural and societal processes influencing the environment and human livelihoods. By analysing landscape change at different spatial scales over time the effects on the environment and human livelihoods of various external and internal driving forces of change can be studied. This paper presents such an analysis of miombo woodland surrounding the Mkata plains in central Tanzania. The rich natural landscape diversity of the study area in combination with its historical and political development makes it an ideal observation ground for this kind of study. The paper focuses on long-term physical and biological changes, mainly based on satellite information but also on field studies and a review of documents and literature.

The miombo woodlands are highly dynamic semi-arid ecosystems found on a number of nutrient-poor soil groups. Most of the woodlands are related to an old, low-relief geomorphology of erosion surfaces with relatively deep and leached soils, or to a lesser extent also on escarpments and steep Inselberg slopes with poor soils. Each period in the past has cast its footprints on the landscape development and its potential for a sustainable future use. On a regional level there has been a continual decrease in forest area over time. Expansion of agriculture around planned villages, implemented during the 1970s, in some cases equals the loss of forest area (Mikumi-Ulaya), whilst in other areas (Kitulangalo), the pre-independence loss of woodland was small; the agricultural area was almost the same during the period 1975–1999, despite the fact that forests have been lost at an almost constant rate over the same period. Illegal logging and charcoal production are likely causes because of the proximity to the main highway running through the area. Contrasting to the general regional pattern are the conditions in a traditional village (Ihombwe), with low immigration of people and a maintained knowledge of the resource potential of the forest with regards to edible plants and animals. In this area the local community has control of the forest resources in a Forest Reserve, within which the woody vegetation has increased in spite of an expansion of agriculture on other types of village land. The mapping procedure has shown that factors such as access to transport and lack of local control have caused greater deforestation of certain areas than during the colonial period. Planned villages have furthermore continued to expand over forest areas well after their implementation, rapidly increasing the landscape fragmentation. One possible way to maintain landscape and biodiversity values is by the sustainable use of traditional resources, based on local knowledge of their management as illustrated by the little change observed in the traditionally used area.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 91A, no 1, 31-45 p.
Keyword [en]
Mkata Plains, Kilosa, Morogoro, Tanzania, Miombo woodland, biodiversity loss, potential vegetation, landscape change, landscape geomorphology, remote sensing, GIS
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-120501DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0459.2009.00351.xISI: 000266549100003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-120501DiVA: diva2:303436
Available from: 2010-03-12 Created: 2010-03-12 Last updated: 2016-05-30

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Strömquist, LennartBackéus, Ingvar
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