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Madagascar Research 2004-2007

Madagascar Photo Album 2004-2005 (PDF) Click here for Adobe

Funded Projects:

National Geographic Society-Funded Project :

Forest Loss and Commodity Chains in Northern Madagascar

Abstract from proposal: The objective of this study is to explore the relationship between rates of deforestation, as detected through ground-truthed satellite images, and agro-economic activities in northern Madagascar, an island of rich biodiversity and high levels of deforestation. Forest loss is often blamed on poor subsistence farmers, but this study challenges this assumption by hypothesizing that cash-crop agriculture and charcoal production on Madagascar’s northern forests represent the most important drivers of forest destruction there. By tracing these products in a commodity chain from production to distribution and finally consumption, this study also places proximate use patterns within regional and global contexts. The results will contribute to scientific knowledge of both natural and human-environmental processes of global change.

For our research in 2004, we prepared for field research by analyzing a time series of satellite images, with the goal of comparing areas where there was significant change with areas where there had been little change. We identified and gave preliminary descriptions of 27 sites that we wanted to visit in the field. Once in the field, we visited the majority of those sites.

The PI on this grant is Lisa L. Gezon. Other formal participants are Glen M. Green and Sean Sweeney. Benjamin Z. Freed has also joined the research team.

Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad:

 “Commodity Chains, Land Use, and Conservation in Northern Madagascar

Abridged abstract: The goal of this study is to understand the relationship between cash crop fruit production, consumption, and land use decisions on the periphery of a protected area in northern Madagascar. Many studies of protected area land use have focused on local levels of analysis, examining the proximate drivers of land use. This study will expand and deepen an understanding of localized resource use by examining how market opportunities and consumption practices influence land use patterns in and around protected areas.

This research was funded in 2003 by a U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship to Lisa Gezon.

National Science Foundation:

 “Commodity Chains and Land Use in Northern Madagascar.”

From the proposal: Studies of the human dimensions of protected area management have tended to focus on local levels of analysis, examining the proximate drivers of land use in and around protected areas. While many conservation agendas have recently embraced a regional, or landscape ecology, approach, systematic links between localized land use patterns and broader political and economic frameworks have yet to be identified. The goal of this research is to help fill that gap by tracing commodity chains of cash crops produced in and around protected areas to their points of consumption. This will contribute to an understanding of some of the specific ways that human-environmental relationships extend beyond the local in patterned interactions with extra-local (regional, national, global) political, economic, and cultural factors of analysis. In particular, this project explores the relationship between urban demand and protected area land use patterns, focusing on the social and cultural factors in production for market (cash crops), distribution, and commodity consumption around the Mt. d’Ambre protected areas of northern Madagascar. On a practical front, this will permit an identification of non-local (dis)incentives for using land in certain ways, which will, in turn, guide planners in designing protected area management schemes that take these factors into consideration.

 This research was funded in 2003 and 2007 by the National Science Foundation awarded to Lisa Gezon.