Exploring innovative strategies for livelihoods in a slash-and-burn context in Madagascar : experiencing the role of huma geography in sustainability-oriented research
Slash-and-burn agriculture on the eastern escarpment of Madagascar is held responsible for the ongoing deforestation of the remaining primary forests. Further consequences attributed to the method are the degradation of fallow land, resulting in a loss of productivity, which is considered to be a threat to food security and the livelihoods of the peasants. The research results presented here contribute to current conservation and development efforts regarding alternative land use systems by studying how households can successfully adopt and adapt innovative strategies. Based on an interdisciplinary synthesis of knowledge about the land use system and a transdisciplinary analysis of multi-stakeholder interests, promising development routes were identified and tested. The results of the introduction of single innovative activities indicated overall improvement in ecological, economic and socio-cultural terms. However, the successful adoption by peasant households could only be achieved where households were able to simultaneously combine different innovative activities. This combination maximised synergies and reduced potential conflict between individual innovations and the existing livelihood strategy of a household. Consequently, important basic parameters for such a process could be defined, such as liberty of choice, accessibility and market networks, as well as Joint development of innovations between concerned actors and researchers.