Land-use change due to the widespread practice of swidden agriculture affects the supply of ecosystem services. However, there is comparatively little understanding of how the hydrological functioning of soils, which affects rainfall infiltration and therefore flood risk, dry-season flows and surface erosion, is affected by repeated vegetation clearing and burning, the extent to which this can recover following land abandonment and vegetation regrowth, and whether active restoration speeds up recovery. We used interviews with local land users and indicator plant species to reconstruct the land-use history of 19 different sites in upland eastern Madagascar that represent four different land-use categories: semi mature forests that were never burnt but were influenced by manual logging until 15-20 years ago; fallows that were actively reforested 6-9 years ago; 2-10 year old naturally regenerating fallows; and highly degraded fire-climax grassland sites.
This work was supported by the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme
Zwartendijk, B.W., van Meerveld, H.J., Ghimire, C.P., Bruijnzeel, L.A., Ravelona, M., Jones, J.P.G., (2017) Rebuilding soil hydrological functioning after swidden agriculture in eastern Madagascar, Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, vol.239, issue7, pp.101-111,
Rebuilding soil hydrological functioning after swidden agriculture in eastern Madagascar
Published 1 February 2017