Hannover, December 10th, 2010

Special Issue of the journal “Ecological Indicators” (ECOLIND)

“Assessment of rural livelihoods in South-West China based on environmental, economic, and social indicators”
• Sylvia Herrmann, Leibniz Universitšt Hannover, Germany
• Karin Berkhoff, Leibniz Universitšt Hannover, Germany
• Jefferson Fox, East West Center Hawaii, USA

Land use in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) is undergoing serious alteration. The region is increasingly influenced by the global economy due to the impacts of globalization and remarkable improvements in infrastructure. This results in far-reaching and often unpredictable impacts on the environment and livelihoods of people. To be able to meet the objective of sustainable development, an understanding of the underlying driving forces of land use change is necessary. Additionally, the consequences of specific decisions have to be evaluated. We present an analysis of social, economic, and environmental indicators describing the framework conditions in the Naban River Watershed National Nature Reserve of Xishuangbanna Prefecture and the possible consequences of land use change. There exists a major conflict in the Nature Reserve between conservation of biodiversity and ethnic livelihoods on the one hand and the influence of globalisation and economic development on the other hand. Rubber monocultures replace tropical rainforest in the study area and thus pose a threat to biodiversity. The combined use of ecological, economic and social indicators allows for the consideration of all conflicting issues. The resulting proposals for a future development of the region and the land use include environmental, economic, and societal aspects, and show the compromises which have to be taken. The combination of all three types of indicators (environmental, economic, and societal) into the modelling framework provides added-value and a more comprehensive picture of the situation. The combined outputs can be used for the discussion with the stakeholders about a more sustainable development in the future.

Publication is expected in tha last quarter of 2011