Assessing linkages and sustainable land management for hillside agroecosystems in Central Honduras: Analysis of intermediate and catchment scale indicators

P. J. Ericksen, K. McSweeney, F. W. Madison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Developing strategies that foster sustainable land management in the hillsides of Central America poses a particular challenge. This research provides empirical and qualitative evidence regarding the impact of local farmers' land management decisions on the sustainability of land use, in conjunction with the specific environmental context. A set of indicators suitable for evaluating impacts in a mixed land use, steeply-sloped catchment in a rural setting in Central Honduras was selected. In the first phase of the study, measured attributes indicating the leakiness of, or tendency for water and sediment to be redistributed within or away from a given site were used to assess the impact of movement of sediment, water and nutrients among patches within the landscape. At any given site, one or two factors contributed to overall leakiness, but with no consistent pattern. Patterns of land use are not strictly related to particular landforms in the catchment. The frequency, intensity and location of transfer processes responsible for the movement of sediment and water were evaluated in the second phase, and the most influential processes identified. Both natural and anthropogenic factors of the study influenced the movement of sediment and water, which varied throughout the catchment. At the broadest scale, surface water flow, landslides and slope failure, and land use change affect overall catchment integrity, threatening sustainability in some cases. Overall, the study successfully linked management produces to landscape features and transfer processes, established patterns of degradation, and identified, cases where the combination of anthropogenic and natural factors has resulted in unsustainable land use. In all cases, the scale of observation determined the dominant factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-311
Number of pages17
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume91
Issue number1-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Central Honduras
  • Indicators
  • Land management
  • Leakiness
  • Scaling-up
  • Sustainability
  • Transfer processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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