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Uncovering the drivers of landscape change, using ComMod to elicit shifting cultivation livelihood strategies

Bos S., Ghazoul J., Gond V., Oszwald J., De Jong W., Schmid T., Garcia C.. 2017. In : Resilience 2017. Stockholm : s.n., p. 198-198. Resilience 2017 : Resilience frontiers for global sustainability, 2017-08-20/2017-08-23, Stockholm (Suède).

To foster the resilience of tropical landscapes, we need to understand the agents of change, the stakeholders potentially tipping the system from one state into the next. This forces us to confront the basic question 'Why do people take the decisions they take?' However, finding the answers is nearly as hard as creating the conditions for the question to be properly posed, as complacency bias and the gap between narrative and behaviour could easily lead to skewed results. To work around this issue we used a trans-disciplinary approach called Companion Modelling. This method facilitates the construction of an interactive model, a game, together with the stakeholders. We then used this model to uncover the drivers of change in Karbi Anglong, in North-East India The Karbi tribe have traditionally been practicing Jhum, or shifting cultivation, to meet subsistence needs, and their rights to use the communal forests are protected by the constitution of India. However, the forested hills also provide a refuge for the wildlife of the adjacent Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. This wetland system floods every monsoon, forcing the animals out of the park and into the Karbi hills. Changes in landscape management by the farmers can have serious implications for conservation. The Jhum farmers have become more aware of alternative development strategies, and might be approaching a tipping point, moving away from traditional subsistence farming and forest dependency, and towards permanent plantations of tea, rubber and bamboo. To set the scene for asking the key question we build a model of the Jhum system, and the resource allocation decisions farmers face when setting out their livelihood strategies. The game puts the farmers in a position that elicits decision making, while it also creates a platform for discussing their strategies, motivations, results and wider implications. (Texte intégral)

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