Mapping and quantifying perceptions of environmental change in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania

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Emma Li Johansson, Abdulhakim M. Abdi

Large-scale land acquisitions are a critical driver of global socio-environmental change, in particular in the Global South. This study aims to investigate drivers, impacts and feedbacks of environmental change in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, a region in rapid societal and environmental transformation. We use land cover classifications to map and quantify land cover changes from 1990 to 2016, and compare these with local perceptions of change from fieldwork conducted in 2015 and 2016. The land change detection clearly shows farmland expansion over the wetlands, which is in line with local perceptions, but fails to detect changes in forest cover, which contradicts local perceptions that proclaim rapid deforestation over the past decade. In order to move towards more inclusive sustainable development, there is a need to break the power asymmetries between agribusinesses and local farmers. Our approach posits that policies of importing regions and countries where land is leased need to be strengthened to make sure that agribusinesses establish farms that are consistent with local and domestic needs. Such policies should not only be informed by assessments of environmental change, but also be guided by local knowledge, needs and future aspirations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019

ID: 225488947