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CAB Review

Land use decisions in smallholder rural communities in developing countries.

Abstract

Land use change has become increasingly acknowledged as an important issue in terms of understanding the processes of global change. Hence, land use decision-making by smallholder communities in developing countries become a vital part of the broader comprehension of environmental and social change that are related to the change processes at the global scale. A wide range of analytical and conceptual frameworks has been developed to facilitate and sharpen such analyses, ranging from very theoretical to directly operational approaches. Five regional cases are used to illustrate the diversity of land use decisions and drivers of decisions. These range from political decisions on land tenure and development (Tanzania, Vietnam and Borneo) to the global effects of climate change (Sahel), and represent a diversity of contexts from the agricultural frontiers of humid tropical sites in Amazonia and Borneo to the more intensively farmed and long-settled tropical dryland areas of the Sahel. We conclude that although there are specific issues in all areas, the multiplicity of drivers for land use change is always important and necessary to capture if adequate understanding and development is to be achieved. The analytical and conceptual frameworks presented are useful for ensuring this.