Selected Case Studies from the Americas
Edited by Mohammed H.I. Dore and Rubén Guevara
Chapter 2: Integrating socioeconomic and biophysical data with a GIS to plan sustainable resource management efforts in Central America
2. Integrating socioeconomic and biophysical data with a GIS to plan sustainable resource management efforts in Central America Steven Shultz INTRODUCTION Sustainable resource management efforts in Central America and in many other tropical regions of the world are often focused on the watershed level of analysis and commonly promote soil conservation, agroforestry and reforestation techniques among small hillside farmers (Lutz et al., 1995; Current et al., 1995). Regularly needed information for planning and implementing such activities includes the identiﬁcation of critical land areas, the selection of appropriate resource management practices and, ﬁnally, the estimation of the costs and beneﬁts of such practices. It is argued here that, for such resource planning and management efforts to be effective and sustainable over time, they must take account of biophysical, socioeconomic and institutional processes which together inﬂuence resource use, land use degradation and the adoption of natural resource management technologies by farmers. The importance of including socioeconomic data in the identiﬁcation of critical areas within watersheds and protected areas is obvious: critical land uses are a result not only of biophysical characteristics of land areas, but of the actions, interests and behaviour of the people who live and work on these lands. More speciﬁcally, it is necessary to estimate the likelihood that local farmers and resource users will participate in soil conservation programmes, reforestation projects and/or natural forest management programmes. Similarly, in cases where the government intends to purchase critical lands in order to establish protected areas, it...
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