Study of Land Use Issues Characterizing the Ambalavao-Andringitra Region of Madagascar

EPA Grant Number: GF9500572
Title: Study of Land Use Issues Characterizing the Ambalavao-Andringitra Region of Madagascar
Investigators: Kull, Christian Arthur
Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: September 1, 1995 through January 1, 2000
Project Amount: $29,750
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1995) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


The central purpose of this project is to study the contextual factors, opportunities, and regional processes driving land use in Madagascar. The primary objective of the proposed study is to contribute to the understanding of environmental-society relationships in order to help the Malagasy better plan for an environmentally sustainable future. The study will investigate in detail the land use issues characterizing the Ambalavao-Andringitra region at the southern end of the Malagasy highlands. Here ethnic Betsileo farmers balance rice irrigation with dryland crops and cattle herding, while the World Wide Fund for Nature attempts to establish an integrated conservation and development project centered around the unique ecology of the Andringitra mountains. Land use is a key issue in this region, as agriculture, grazing, conservation, tourism, and mineral interests vie for the land. First this study will document the changes in the land use in the Ambalavao-Andringitra region through air photo, archival, and field research, following the example of Tiffen. The study will map historical and current land use patterns onto FTM topographic maps using a Zoom Transfer Scope, and subsequently analyze land use change using a geographic information system software package such as IDRISI. Archival sources, such as Perrier de la Bathie's (1927) account of the Andringitra massif or Dubois' (1938) monograph of the Betsileo people, will complement this analysis. The second phase will employ a political ecology framework to examine the contextual forces that drive land use and environmental change in the study area. Political ecology is a theoretical framework that combines the concerns of ecology with a broadly defined political economy. It is an approach that synthesizes political-economic, ecological, and other explanatory theories in an attempt to understand phenomena such as land use change. Political ecology often emphasizes a historical approach, and has been applied in studies of resource degradation, environmental activities, agricultural transformation, and ethnic conflict, particularly in the Third World. The third and final element of this proposed study is to tie the above understanding of the political ecology of land use into environmental planning for sustainable development. The study will investigate the roles played by local citizens, international environmental and development aid organizations, and the government in shaping future land use. To accomplish this goal the study will analyze the efforts of WWF in its Andringitra Integrated Conservation and Development Project through the data and field evidence collected in the study of land use, supplemented by specific interviews of project officials.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology and Ecosystems, International, Sociology, Urban and Regional Planning, Ecological Indicators, Environmental History, Social Science, sustainable development, land use characterization, Ambalavao-Andringitra Region of Madagascar, Malagasy Highlands, land use change, Africa, Ambalavao-Andringitra Region (Madagascar), political ecology, Madagascar, land use

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1996
  • 1997
  • 1998
  • 1999
  • Final