Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



East Africas Rapid Development Presents Complex Push And Pull

Olson points out that land use results in both positive and negative outcomes. On the one hand, local economies are doing well as more and more people are earning a living farming. But this increased agricultural production has its trade-offs. Farmers need land. Farmers have been expanding into the savanna, wetlands and forests creating problems for the native plants and wildlife that occupy one of the globe's most significant and diverse ecosystems, Jennifer Olson said.
by Staff Writers
St Louis MO (SPX) Feb 21, 2006
The landscape is changing in East Africa, and quickly. A migrating and growing population, emerging economies and an increase in agricultural production are leaving their mark on the region's environment. Jennifer Olson, a visiting assistant professor of geography at Michigan State University, is co-coordinator of LUCID: Land Use Change, Impacts and Dynamics.

LUCID is an international effort to examine and discover links to how East Africa's economic and social progress is influencing land use, the area's plant and wildlife diversity and land degradation.

Olson participated on a panel discussion today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting on "Space Matters! Space Dimensions of Complex Interactions between People and the Natural Environment." The session was to explore challenges in interactions between human and natural systems. Olson was to discuss "Multiscale Analysis of the Linkages Between Human and Biophysical Processes." Her work in LUCID, which is conducted in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, expands on that concept.

Drawing connections between changes in the social system and the environment is one aspect that makes LUCID unique.

"Most research projects just look at impacts on biodiversity and land degradation without integrating socioeconomic factors," Olson said. "Changes in social systems are all reflected in the environment. It is critical to link the two."

Olson points out that land use results in both positive and negative outcomes. On the one hand, local economies are doing well as more and more people are earning a living farming.

But this increased agricultural production has its trade-offs. Farmers need land. Farmers have been expanding into the savanna, wetlands and forests creating problems for the native plants and wildlife that occupy one of the globe's most significant and diverse ecosystems, Olson said.

"In East Africa most of the wildlife, 60 to 80 percent, are outside of the parks and reserves at any one time. Agriculture is increasingly moving into these areas that had been for livestock and wildlife," she said.

Elephants are just one animal population that is feeling the effects of land use, particularly deforestation. During the rainy season elephants live in the dry land savanna zones. Once the difficult dry season begins, they head toward the forest. In some areas, however, deforestation is a major problem and has cut off the elephants' migration route.

The negative consequences of land use aren't as severe in some areas where the community's agricultural practices have not diminished biodiversity, resources or soil quality. Olson and other LUCID researchers want to know why.

"We want to understand why in some areas people have maintained the environment and their resources alongside the local agriculture industry," Olson said.

Olson and other researchers use a variety of methods to achieve this goal. She combines on-the-ground ecological and socioeconomic field studies with satellite imagery and aerial photography to get a broad idea of what changes are occurring on the land and why.

She and her colleagues collect information about who occupies a particular area, how long they've been there, how they modified the land and their perceptions of land degradation and changes in biodiversity.

Olson said there's a pattern people clear the bush, start planting, soil fertility decreases and then in some cases there seems to be a turning point where farmers begin to invest in methods to improve land productivity.

"Determining when and why this turning point happens is important so governments can encourage improved soil and water management," Olson said.

The United Nations is taking note of LUCID's research methodology and implementing it in environmental projects in other parts of Africa and Asia.

Related Links
Michigan State University

Early Human Ancestors Walked On The Wild Side
Tempe AZ (SPX) Feb 21, 2006
Arizona State University anthropologist and Institute of Human Origins researcher Gary Schwartz, along with fellow anthropologist Dan Gebo from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, have studied fossil anklebones of some early ancestors of modern humans and discovered that they walked on the wild side.







  • Scientists Say California Quake Could Cause Katrina II
  • US Troops Join Landslide Rescue As Buried School Is Located
  • Cornell, WCMC And LockMart To Create Plan To Manage Mass Casualties In Disasters
  • Experiment To Test Crisis Planning

  • The Arctic And Global Warming
  • Late Pleistocene Americans Faced Chaotic Climate Change Environments
  • Ancient Climate Studies Suggest Earth On Fast Track To Global Warming
  • Antarctic Snow Inaccurate Temperature Archive

  • Earth From Space: Copenhagen, Denmark
  • ALOS Captures First Image of Fujiyama
  • Southern Greenland Glaciers Dumping Ice Faster
  • NASA Satellite Technology Helps Fight Invasive Plant Species

  • Environmental Metagenomics Tapping Opportunities For Clean Energy
  • Walker's World: EU's Bold Caucasus Bid
  • Garbage Truck Industry Ponders Move To LNG
  • Nuclear Fusion On A Tabletop

  • Grants Put ANU In Bird Flu Fight Frontline
  • New Influenza Vaccine Takes Weeks To Mass Produce
  • Bird Flu Hits Western Europe
  • Bird Flue Hits Africa

  • Electric ESP
  • Tree Of Life Project Grows More Leaves And Branches
  • First Wolverine Radio-Collared In Pacific Northwest
  • China's Endangered Monkeys Make A Comeback

  • Fourfold Increase In British Radiation Levels After Iraq Invasion
  • Water Cut Off For 20,000 People After Latest Chinese River Toxic Spill
  • China To Step Up Environmental Protection Efforts
  • Disturbing Former Farmlands Can Rouse Old Pesticides

  • Early Human Ancestors Walked On The Wild Side
  • East Africa's Rapid Development Presents Complex Push And Pull
  • Early Humans On The Menu
  • Scientists Discuss Evolutionary Roots Of Social Behavior

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement