Environmental Assessments of Landscape Changes Interdisciplinary studies in rural Tanzania

University dissertation from Uppsala : Kulturgeografiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet

Abstract: This thesis aims to show how biogeophysical and social processes are interlinked in landscape change, and to propose approaches for interdisciplinary environmental assessments (such as EIAs), concentrating on developing countries’ situations, and representation of findings from such studies. Landscape in its holistic sense is a very good concept and basis for intellectual and practical use in environmental dialogues. However, landscapes are valued and assessed differently, depending on cultural background along with individual characteristics. Methods of conducting interdisciplinary environmental assessments need to vary, but it is important to follow a structure to avoid too broad and general studies that only assemble a few factors and present them without an integrated synthesis. This thesis has suggested one research sequence and structure that has proven to be practical and possible to execute in areas where data is scarce and where local involvement is a major component. It extends the observation period in time and space where remote sensing analyses are integrated with interviews, archive material, land-cover assessments and soil analyses.Case studies from Tanzania have been used to investigate how perceptions of land and resources manifest themselves at local scales and how this information can contribute to sustainable environmental planning. Preferences and perceptions of land as being ‘important’ and ‘good’ do not always correlate with favourable biogeophysical conditions, indicating that both social services, such as health care, access to markets, education and employment, as well as “non-rational” factors are essential to consider in environmental planning and management.This study has partly been part of a larger research project investigating the links between human livelihood and biodiversity in miombo woodlands. It has been shown how miombo woodland is important to local populations as it provides material goods as well as many intangible services. However, it is also associated with problems and dangers, which are important to consider and understand in planning for the environment and sustainable development.