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University of Sheffield (2014)

Resilience in the rangelands ? : responses to change in the Amboseli social-ecological system of Kenya

Carabine, Elizabeth

Titre : Resilience in the rangelands ? : responses to change in the Amboseli social-ecological system of Kenya

Auteur : Carabine, Elizabeth

Université de soutenance : University of Sheffield

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2014

Résumé
Over the past century arid and semi-arid systems have been undergoing an accelerating process of change. Rapidly shifting land-use is leading to fragmentation of rangelands, driven by socio-economic factors including population growth, globalisation, competition for land, tourism, intensification of production and political pressures. Increased climate variability and frequency of extreme weather events adds a further layer of complexity. The Amboseli system exemplifies the multiple stressors facing communities in these semi-arid contexts. In 2009, the area suffered the most severe drought in 50 years, during which an estimated 85% of livestock was lost to the Maasai pastoralists that inhabit the area. This interdisciplinary research used mixed methods and modelling approaches to investigate the impacts of and responses to this shock, as well as implications for longer-term processes of land-use change and climate change. The key findings of this research show first that the psychological impacts of the 2009 drought have implications for place-identity and cultural norms, both critical aspects of resilience in social-ecological systems. Second, this shock has thrown institutions into tension. In the context of multiple stressors, new power dynamics and shifting worldviews in Amboseli are giving rise to actions that may prove maladaptive in the longer term. Third, the decision-making processes leading to shifts in livelihoods and land use are determined by this multiple stressor context as well as access to resources and access to sources of power and authority. These are important components of resilience in Amboseli. Fourth, climate change and land-use change are likely to interact over the long-term to impact on vegetation structure and function in complex ways that will interplay with the local-scale dynamics described in the previous points to influence the resilience of Amboseli.

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