Mekong Sentinel Landscape

  • Shifting cultivation in Oudomxay (short fallows have reduced tree cover)

In the last two decades, Mekong economies have grown much faster than usual. Large infrastructure development has caused, and will continue to cause, dramatic changes in forest cover, land use patterns and regional ecosystem services. These changes will bring profound and widespread changes to both the physical and social environment. Recent debates among regional countries continue to focus on the commercial exploitation of natural resources, not the sustainable protection and provision of ecosystem services. These reasons signify Sentinel Landscape research is critical to the future of the Mekong region.

The Mekong is home to almost 100 distinct ethnic groups. The political and economic marginalization of these groups is a longstanding problem. Additionally, local, indigenous communities face increasing uncertainties as they strive to use and sustain the landscapes in which they depend upon. Among the most powerful contemporary forces that influence both local cultures and land use are various government policies with their emphasis on rapid expansion of regional, national and international markets.

Nation building and increased regional integration of ethnic minority areas has led to increased incomes as well created poverty. The challenges facing Mekong region ethnic groups are new and old, social and cultural, political and economic, national and regional.

Problem

Problem
Reduction of forest cover and simplification of formerly multiuse landscapes has led to an erosion of ecosystem services.

Externalities are often borne by segments of society who have benefited little from rubber income, causing increased disparities in wealth and social unrest.

Site Selection

Site selection
Menglanxiang, Xishuangbanna, China

Rubber entered site about 15 yrs ago, also paddy rice and tea;
~40% natural forest mostly in protected areas

Oudomxay, Oudomxay, Laos

Rubber in small lowland patches, hill paddy, fruit orchards;
~60% natural forest mostly in uplands

Chiangrai, N. Thailand

Rubber new in site but now a major landuse;
~60% natural forest including protected area

Site in eastern Myanmar site still under consideration, because of the potentially dangerous situation if civil war escalates.

Progress

LDSF team trained by Methods group and LDSF protocol completed for two sites (Menglaxiang and Oudomxay)

Workshop on IFRI and Household survey instruments, with IFRI trainer, held in Kunming in September 2014. Enumerator training conducted for China team and data collected for both Chinese sites (Menglaxiang and Menghan).

Workshop on IFRI and Household survey instruments conducted in Oudomxay, Laos with members from Lao and Thai partner institutions.

Menglaxiang Sentinel Site

  • LDSF,IFRI and HH survey completed
  • Soil processing complete
  • Soil samples submitted to lab for analysis (wet analysis scheduled for completion by Mar 2016 and spectroscopy by May 2016 (after training from ICRAF Soil Lab in March)).

Menghan Sentinel Site

  • HH and IFRI survey completed. LDSF dependent on funding.

Oudomxay Sentinel Site

  • IFRI and HH survey scheduled for Jan 2015 (funded through bilateral grant). LDSF survey complete.

Soil processing complete.

  • Soil samples submitted to lab for analysis (wet analysis scheduled for completion by Mar 2016 and spectroscopy by May 2016 (after training from ICRAF Soil Lab in March)).

Kreung Sentinel Site

  • IFRI and HH survey scheduled for Jan 2015 (funded through bilateral grant). LDSF dependent on funding.

Progress by August 2014

  • MOUs signed with country partners in China, Laos, and Thailand
  • Site visits to 20 potential sites conducted by ICRAF – June 2014
  • Site visit to Oudomxay, Laos by Socio-ecolonimc team – July 2014
  • LDSF survey in Menglaxiang completed
  • Workshop on socio-economic instruments conducted in Kunming, October 2014
  • Socio-economic surveys in Menglaxiang ongoing
  • LDSF survey in Oudomxay scheduled to start in January 2015 and in Chiang Rai in March 2015
  • Socio-economic survey in Oudomxay scheduled to start late November 2014.