Modeling Human Agency in Land Change in Madagascar: A Review and Prospectus


McConnell, Bill

Journal or Book Title: Madagascar Conservation and Devlopment

Keywords: Madagascar; conservation; land - use; spatially explicit model; human agency

Volume/Issue: 4/1

Page Number(s): 13-24

Year Published: 2009


Preserving Earth’s biodiversity is one of the central challenges to global sustainability, and the task is complicated in developing countries by the need to avoid further compromising the ability of resource - dependent people to secure their livelihoods. The challenge is all the more daunting given the
scarcity of resources available to the effort, necessitating reliable analyses of the role of human agency and the effects of various policy prescriptions. New sources of data and computational tools available to researchers over the past two decades have enabled the development of quantitative models of human agency in land change, including a special class known as spatially explicit models. This article explores advances in
understanding human agency in land change in Madagascar in order to synthesize lessons learned and identify remaining challenges. It concentrates on the findings of a number of recent spatially explicit modeling efforts, identifying progress in accounting for human presence in the landscape. Other quantitative and
qualitative studies point to the importance of a broad array of additional factors, particularly those reflecting interactions among agents. Bringing together the various perspectives on human agency in land change in Madagascar should enable them to better contribute to the formulation of policy that can balance protection of the island’s biodiversity with securing the livelihoods of the Malagasy people.

Type of Publication: Journal Article