Chechen Wars triggered land use change in the North Caucasus

Authors: He Yin*, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Van Butsic, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California–Berkeley, 327 Mulford Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA, Matthias Baumann, Geography Department, Humboldt-University Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany, Tobias Kuemmerle, Geography Department, Humboldt-University Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany, Alexander Prishchepov, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 København K, Denmark, Johanna Buchner, SILVIS Lab, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA, Eugenia Bragina, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh NC 27607, USA, Volker Radeloff, SILVIS Lab, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Russia, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: Chechen Wars, Caucasus, Soviet Union, Landsat, time series, land use change, land abandonment, recultivation, quasi-experimental statistical techniques
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Shock events, such as armed conflicts can trigger diverging land-use decisions, both land abandonment and persisting agricultural land use. Thus reprojections of land-use outcomes from one conflict into another are unfeasible. The insurgency in the Northern Caucasus after the breakup of the Soviet Union, which resulted in two Russian-Chechen wars, was a prime example of a long-lasting armed conflict. Yet, knowledge about impact of Russian-Chechen war on land-use in northern Caucausus, a global biodiversity-rich hotspot, is not known. Here, we used remote sensing techniques to reconstruct agricultural land-use change in combination with a series of quasi-experimental statistical techniques to quantify the effects of the Chechen Wars on agricultural land-use change. Our results provide the following land use outcomes of two Chechen Wars: i) agricultural lands closer to the armed conflict were more prone to be abandoned compared to that far from the conflict sites; ii) higher intensity armed conflicts led to the higher probability of land abandonment and iii) the continuity of the armed conflicts prevented re-cultivation of abandoned agriculture land, indicating long-lasting land use legacies and posing both challenges and opportunities for the post-conflict land management in the Caucasus region.

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