Negotiating sustainable landscape management in Lao PDR

Jeremy Bourgoin (2011). Negotiating sustainable landscape management in Lao PDR PhD Thesis, School of Geography, Planning & Env Management, The University of Queensland.

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Author Jeremy Bourgoin
Thesis Title Negotiating sustainable landscape management in Lao PDR
School, Centre or Institute School of Geography, Planning & Env Management
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-11
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor David Pullar
Jean-Christophe Castella
Jonathan Rhodes
Total pages 180
Total colour pages 38
Total black and white pages 142
Language eng
Subjects 0502 Environmental Science and Management
0501 Ecological Applications
Abstract/Summary Land-use Planning (LUP) has long been used as a tool for applying sustainable development discourses and accounting for both present and future needs of populations. In Lao PDR, like in many natural resource rich but population poor countries, successive land-use policies have been tested to respond to conservation-development challenges in relation to on-going land and forest degradation. Past land-use planning/ land allocation processes have been seen as counterproductive, exacerbating poverty and deforestation trends. An essential task of participatory action-research is therefore to address the gap between policy discourses and practice by involving scientists, planners and local communities in designing future landscapes. The aim of this thesis is to investigate how land-use planning principles can be applied differently to better manage ecosystem-livelihood trade-offs through land-use negotiations at multiple scales and with multiple stakeholder groups. The functioning and development of an action-research project is illustrated through case studies in northern Lao PDR involving three main interrelated components and activities. The first involves a multi-level diagnostic study aimed at drawing lessons from past experiences by identifying mismatches between (inter-) national discourses and the local implementation of land-use planning. By combining empirical studies with a comprehensive analysis of the land policy context, the research showed that, in a context of limited technical and investment capacity of implementation agencies, the reality of LUP in Lao PDR remains entangled with confused ‘on-the-ground’ issues and lacks integration with local knowledge and perspectives. The diagnostic study helps define a framework for innovation. The second component focuses on a landscape design approach that is generic and adaptive enough to be applied nationally in accordance with Participatory Land-use Planning (PLUP) guidelines developed by the government. This pilot action-research borrowed on the body of knowledge accumulated through the transdisciplinary ambitions of this thesis. Historical changes in landscapes and livelihoods were used to ground the development of the participatory platform in the local context. Local practitioners were involved in a series of learning and design activities at the village level. After eliciting local knowledge related to landscapes and livelihoods, a role-play called ‘PLUP Fiction’ involved the villagers in a learning experiment of land zoning based on a virtual landscape. Additionally, a participatory 3D modelling approach was used as a ‘boundary object’ to visualise alternative landscape scenarios. Knowledge originated from different sources, i.e. different scientific disciplines, local practitioners and village communities was mobilized during land zoning negotiations between stakeholder groups. A Geographic Information System (GIS) coupled with a cost/benefit analysis model parameterised by the villagers, could capture real-time information on the different areas of the land-use plan under discussion and present corresponding socio-economic and environmental returns. Through iterative design, the participants gradually refined their land-use plan and tested the introduction of innovative cropping and animal husbandry systems by changing the parameters of the simulation. An important part of this approach consisted of building capacity to gradually make local stakeholders (i.e. district planners and local communities) autonomous in landscape planning and engage them into a long term monitoring which is necessary to regularly revisit their plans and achieve their outcomes. The third component explores the capacity of participatory land-use planning to translate global and national regulations into local actions was explored. Our innovative landscape design approach was brought up to the national and international debates on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). In a context of payment for ecosystem services, land-use planning scenarios were used to frame the local negotiations about benefit sharing and equity. Local practitioners and communities were engaged in land policy formulation, which helped reducing the policy implementation gap, i.e. land-use plans that are more realistic and context relevant have better chance to be actually implemented and to achieve impact. The innovative approaches developed in this PhD demonstrate that landscape design can balance the development needs of rural communities against sustaining the natural environment. Furthermore improvements can be made by directly inviting local stakeholders to take part in the planning and decision-making process thereby promoting ownership and responsibility over sustainable landscape management.
Keyword sustainable land management
land-use planning
geographic information systems
Additional Notes 1, 18, 24, 33, 46, 52, 57-59, 62, 69, 70, 80, 84, 86, 87, 90, 91, 93-95, 98, 103, 105, 116-118, 122, 127, 128, 130, 133, 138, 146, 151, 153, 155, 158

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Created: Mon, 23 Apr 2012, 18:31:20 EST by Jeremy Bourgoin on behalf of Library - Information Access Service