Real and Imagined Landscapes: Land Use and Conservation in the Menabe

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"Despite conservation efforts, the remaining dry deciduous forests in the Menabe region of western Madagascar are severely threatened by deforestation. In order to examine the economic and socio-cultural factors underlying this problem, this paper uses a landscape approach. The local definitions for types of land, as well as different modes of land use, ownership and economic participation inherent in these definitions are examined. The traditional uses associated with each of these categories highlight important aspects of Sakalava culture, and economic and social structures of rural Menabe. The traditional and modern conceptions of landscape contrast so starkly, that the local people and those tasked with promoting conservation are functioning as in two different realities. This disjunction has serious ramifications for conservation. Diverse local groups with different ideas about the landscape, and modern influences that run counter to conservation, further complicate the picture of deforestation. In order to be effective, conservation organizations should study the landscapes with their inherent complexities of local culture and economics."
land tenure and use, conservation, landscape change