Doctoral Dissertation Research: The Social-Ecological Matrix: Livelihood and Landscape Diversity Amidst Agricultural Development in Tanzania

Project: Research project

Project Details


Livelihoods and landscape are closely connected as humans make decisions about land use in efforts to address the challenges of everyday life (McCusker and Carr 2006). Indeed, landscapes are a material manifestation of the perceptions and activities of actors responding to various social-ecological constraints and opportunities (Batterbury 2001). My research explores this relationship between livelihood diversity and landscape pattern, particularly the complexity of agricultural lands and the fragmentation of extant habitat. This research is particularly concerned with how agricultural development programs are reshaping this relationship in rural communities in the Region of Morogoro in Tanzania. The potential benefits and consequences for agricultural development will have immediate impacts on the rural poor that depend on agricultural activities and a diversity of environmental resources to support their incomes and diets. Sustainable development must balance these tradeoffs between agricultural production and environmental change in order to support rural livelihoods and to improve food security. I will address this issue by examining if and how agricultural intensification is altering livelihood strategies in the Morogoro and Iringa Regions of Tanzania. To undertake this research, I will draw from theory and methods in both the sustainable livelihoods (Scoones et al. 2009) and land change science literature (Turner et al. 2007), while also considering the critiques (particularly post-structural) of these fields that emanate from political ecology (c.f. Robbins 2012). To characterize environmental changes in regions where agricultural development is underway, I will analyze satellite imagery to identify changes in land cover and land use. I will complement this analysis with interview and survey data to explain how agricultural programs have altered livelihood strategies and resource extraction in the area. I will administer a survey in six villages to identify changes in agricultural practices and use of forest resources. Survey will also identify specific sources of income, food, participation in development programs, and government support. Interviews with farmers and representatives from various development agencies will address the recent changes in policies and incentives. These interviews will also identify the different perceptions environmental services and livelihood security among households and development workers. This combination of methods will allow me to quantitatively and qualitatively examine the evolving relationship between changes in landscape pattern and livelihood strategies.
Effective start/end date8/1/141/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $14,994.00


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