Monitoring land-use change by combining participatory land-use maps with standard remote sensing techniques: Showcase from a remote forest catchment on Mindanao, Philippines

François Mialhe, Yanni Gunnell, J. Andres F Ignacio, Nicolas Delbart, Jenifer L. Ogania, Sabine Henry

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    This paper combines participatory activities (PA) with remote sensing analysis into an integrated methodology to describe and explain land-cover changes. A remote watershed on Mindanao (Philippines) is used to showcase the approach, which hypothesizes that the accuracy of expert knowledge gained from remote sensing techniques can be further enhanced by inputs from vernacular knowledge when attempting to understand complex land mosaics and past land-use changes. Six participatory sessions based on focus-group discussions were conducted. These were enhanced by community-based land-use mapping, resulting in a final total of 21 participatory land-use maps (PLUMs) co-produced by a sample of stakeholders with different sociocultural and ecological perspectives. In parallel, seven satellite images (Landsat MSS, Landsat TM, Landsat ETM+, and SPOT4) were classified following standard techniques and provided snapshots for the years 1976, 1996, and 2010. Local knowledge and collective memory contributed to define and qualify relevant land-use classes. This also provided information about what had caused the land-use changes in the past. Results show that combining PA with remote-sensing analysis provides a unique understanding of land-cover change because the two methods complement and validate one another. Substantive qualitative information regarding the chronology of land-cover change was obtained in a short amount of time across an area poorly covered by scientific literature. The remote sensing techniques contributed to test and to quantify verbal reports of land-use and land-cover change by stakeholders. We conclude that the method is particularly relevant to data-poor areas or conflict zones where rapid reconnaissance work is the only available option. It provides a preliminary but accurate baseline for capturing land changes and for reporting their causes and consequences. A discussion of the main challenges encountered (i.e. how to combine different systems of knowledge), and options for further methodological improvements, are also provided.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)69-82
    Number of pages14
    JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
    Volume36
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Keywords

    • Land-use change
    • Methodology
    • Participatory land-use map
    • Philippines
    • Remote sensing

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