Influence of livelihood-based experiences on perceptions of environmental variability in a wetland landscape

Authors: Amelia Eisenhart*, University of Texas - Austin, Kelley A. Crews, University of Texas - Austin
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Environmental Perception, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Africa, ecosystem services, flooding variability, landscape, land use land cover change, remote sensing
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8224, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Studies in environmental psychology have shown that perceptions of a phenomenon are influenced not only by the places in which people spend their time, but also by the social networks associated with those places. This study investigates whether these previous findings can also explain perceptions of environmental phenomena associated with the biophysical landscape. The landscape in this study is a complex hydrologic system that exhibits high spatio-temporal variability in flooding and associated wetland landscapes. Located in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana, this research hypothesizes that livelihoods associated with social networks that collect resources together in the floodplain will affect the perceptions of flooding reported. Preliminary participatory mapping was used to determine the locations of aquatic reed collection within the northwestern portion of the Delta. Remote sensing of high and moderate resolution imagery was used to measure changes in the heterogeneity of the wetland landscape in the floodplain between 2007 and 2017 near the paths to the reed collection area. These results were coupled with interviews that were conducted with residents of the nearby villages to examine perceptions of environmental variability. The variability associated with flooding was compared between three groups: 1) those who reported collection of reeds as a livelihood activity and did so with a group, 2) those who reported collection of reeds as a livelihood activity, but did so alone or in a location away from the areas reported in the participatory mapping, and 3) those who did not report collecting reeds.

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