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How to combine scientific and local knowledge to develop sustainable land use practices in the uplands-a case study from Vietnam and Laos

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Global population growth and increasing wealth exert pressure to convert forests to agricultural, industrial or residential land. Land use changes, together with the diversity in physical and socio-economic conditions in the uplands of northern Vietnam and Laos, require new sustainable land use options for obtaining food security as well as for environmental protection. A Knowledge-Based System (KBS) approach, whereby local and scientific knowledge are combined to develop new land use options, is being tested by a consortium of researchers, extension agents and farmers in the Dong Cao catchment, Hoa Binh province, Vietnam, and in Pakchae village, Park ou District, Luangprabang, Laos. The methods employed are field measurements of erosion on a catchment scale, computer simulations using the Water, Nutrient and Light Capture in Agroforestry Systems (WaNuLCAS) and Generic Model for River Flow (GenRiver) models, application of PRA/RRA tools and the Agro-Ecological Knowledge Toolkit for Windows – WinAKT 4.06. Effects on soil and water conservation, as well as on household economies of current and future land use options in different landscape units at the two sites have been evaluated

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