CIFOR–ICRAF publishes over 750 publications every year on agroforestry, forests and climate change, landscape restoration, rights, forest policy and much more – in multiple languages.

CIFOR–ICRAF addresses local challenges and opportunities while providing solutions to global problems for forests, landscapes, people and the planet.

We deliver actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

Mapping landscapes

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Participatory mapping and GIS are both necessary to model the interactions betwen humans and their environment. A case study from the forest margin in the Congo Basin demonstrates how data from participatory community mapping and other social science methods can be prepared for quantitative modelling. This approach bridged the gap between spatial modelling data and social decision-making in space by elaborating a geographically consistent social representation of the landscape and giving a geographical base to the connection between land use, its cultural representation, and its social management. This was achieved through an iterative process of GIS cartography, using feedback from village informants and field checking, to transpose the spatial references from participatory mapping sketches into reliable geographic locations. As well as demonstrating the utility of such data for modelling, this work clarified the distribution of land rights among the six main owner-clans spread through the eight hamlets in the watershed. The 'basin' of spatial resources and its relation to the rules of land use and natural resource management were defined for each clan. Land-use systems at the forest-agriculture interface in the study area proved to be complex, strongly driven by social rules and influenced by history and settlement strategies. These social and historical aspects established the framework within which communities make current decisions and intervention.
    Publication year



    Robligio, V.; Mala, W.A.; Diaw, C.




    mapping, participation, community involvement, geographical information systems, social sciences, social scientists, models


    Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon

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