Research Project Details
Discipline: Geography Human Environment Relations
Institution: East-West Center
Principal Investigators: JEFFERSON FOX, EAST-WEST CENTER,
BENCHAPHAN EKASINGH, CHIANG MAI UNIVERSITY, CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
YAYOI FUJITA, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF LAOS
THOMAS GIAMBELLUCA, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII, MANOA
LOUIS LEBEL, CHIANG MAI UNIVERSITY, CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
Grant Number: NSF Grant #BCS-0434043
Description: Contemporary concerns with climate change, global environmental change, and sustainability have rejuvenated interest in the development of an integrative theory of human-environment relationships. Montane mainland Southeast Asia is a region of great biological and cultural diversity that has come under close scrutiny in the last several decades as a result of both real and perceived deforestation, land degradation, and most recently, the conversion of traditional agricultural practices to more permanent cash crop agriculture driven by regional and global markets. This project seeks to understand how resource management systems in montane mainland Southeast Asia are changing in the wake of commodification of resources in order to appreciate how these changes may affect sustainable resource use, landscape transformation, and land cover.
The project is constructed around three broad research objectives:
1. To use an environmental entitlements approach to inform economic, demographic, institutional, and cultural data collection at household, district, provincial, national, and international scales on factors affecting land-cover and land-use change in the region. This analysis will be used to develop narratives of economic, demographic, institutional and cultural change in the region including changing political economics, environmental feedbacks on land use, and external shocks.
2. To link economic, demographic, institutional and cultural data to a comprehensive, high-resolution spatial database of land cover in montane mainland Southeast Asia developed in a project funded by NASA (see below).
3. To develop cellular automata and agent-based models that utilize the narratives of economic, demographic, institutional, and cultural change within the spatial framework to address “what if” questions concerning hypothesized changes in social and biophysical variables and to increase our understanding beyond the available empirical data.
A multidisciplinary team (including economists, foresters, geographers, and social scientists is collecting economic, demographic, institutional and cultural data and tying these data together in a multi-temporal high-resolution spatial database (the spatial database is being put together as part of a NASA funded project). Data are being used to develop a narrative of land-cover and land-use change in montane mainland Southeast Asia. We are also building cellular automata and agent-based models to address "what if" questions concerning hypothesized changes in social and biophysical variables and to increase our understanding beyond the available empirical data.