Forest transitions and rural livelihoods: multiple pathways of smallholder teak expansion in Northern Laos

Newby, Jonathan, Cramb, Rob and Sakampet, Somphanh (2014) Forest transitions and rural livelihoods: multiple pathways of smallholder teak expansion in Northern Laos. Land, 3 2: 482-503. doi:10.3390/land3020482

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Author Newby, Jonathan
Cramb, Rob
Sakampet, Somphanh
Title Forest transitions and rural livelihoods: multiple pathways of smallholder teak expansion in Northern Laos
Journal name Land   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2073-445X
Publication date 2014-06-10
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3390/land3020482
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 3
Issue 2
Start page 482
End page 503
Total pages 22
Place of publication Basel, Switzerland
Publisher M D P I AG
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Smallholder teak (Tectona grandis) plantations have been identified as a potentially valuable component of upland farming systems in northern Laos that can contribute to a “livelihood transition” from subsistence-oriented swidden agriculture to a more commercially-oriented farming system, thereby bringing about a “forest transition” at the landscape scale. In recent years, teak smallholdings have become increasingly prominent in the province of Luang Prabang, especially in villages close to Luang Prabang City. In this paper, we draw on a household survey conducted in five teak-growing villages and case studies of different household types to explore the role that small-scale forestry has played in both livelihood and land-use transitions. Drawing on a classification of forest transitions, we identify three transition pathways that apply in the study villages—the “economic development” pathway, the “smallholder, tree-based, land-use intensification” pathway, and the “state forest policy” pathway. The ability of households to integrate teak into their farming system, manage the woodlots effectively, and maintain ownership until the plantation reaches maturity varies significantly between these pathways. Households with adequate land resources but scarce labor due to the effects of local economic development are better able to establish and hold onto teak woodlots, but less able to adopt beneficial management techniques. Households that are land-constrained are motivated to follow a path of land-used intensification, but need more productive agroforestry systems to sustain incomes over time. Households that are induced to plant teak mainly by land-use policies that threaten to deprive them of their land, struggle to efficiently manage or hold on to their woodlots in the long term. Thus, even when it is smallholders driving the process of forest transition via piecemeal land-use changes, there is potential for resource-poor households to be excluded from the potential livelihood benefits or to be further impoverished by the transition. We argue that interventions to increase smallholder involvement in the forestry sector need to take explicit account of the initial variation in livelihood platforms and in alternative transition pathways at the household scale in order to pursue more inclusive “forest-and-livelihood” transitions in rural areas.
Keyword Rural livelihoods
Forest transitions
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Official 2015 Collection
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Created: Thu, 27 Nov 2014, 17:26:50 EST by Rob Cramb on behalf of School of Agriculture and Food Sciences