Landscape character mapping – collaborative, participatory process for the land and forest development and planning in Zanzibar Island (Tanzania)

Authors and Affiliations: 

Niina Käyhkö1, Nora Fagerholm1 , Markus Kukkonen1, Miza Khamis2, Veerle Van Eetvelde3

1 University of Turku, Department of Geography and  Geology, Turku, Finland
2 Department of Forestry and Non-Renewable Natural Resources, Government of Zanzibar, Tanzania
3 Ghent University, Department of Geography, Ghent, Belgium


Most of the current problems in the sustainable landscape management are related in the interface of people and the environment. Land use planning and resource management processes can potentially avert destructive trends, but their implementation requires dedicated participation of the stakeholders in the area. The approach of Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) is seen as a tool for sustainable land use and forest management taking into account knowledge and aspirations of different stakeholders. The character map of Zanzibar (Unguja Island) is created through a continuous dialogue between technical professional work and stakeholder involvement and participatory validation. The LCA approaches are new tools for Zanzibar stakeholders. The process is aiming to be a policy supportive instrument for the government and other stakeholders to discuss and make plans on land and forest development. Zanzibar character map aims to describe the current landscape of the island as a synthesis of land cover, land use and physical landforms combined with prevailing land use and forest management practices, socio-economic conditions and historical and anticipated future land dynamics and changes. The first phase of the characterisation is identifying different landscape character types as homogeneous and distinct combinations of natural (biophysical) and anthropogenic features using GIS, field data and statistical methods of factor analysis and clustering.


In the second phase, these types were validated during stakeholder discussions and with the aid of the field data. Key experts in planning and development of Unguja participated in the validating process. In addition, they pinpoint themes, topics and areas of particular interest to be included into the characterization process. The experts raised important on going, historical or future land uses, anticipated land and forest changes, planning challenges and priorities, land use management problems and conflicts related to particular areas or sites on the island. On the basis of the feedback and inclusion of qualitative data, such as descriptions of historical and prevailing land and forest use practices and socio-economic conditions, the pattern of the landscape character types was interpreted to delineate landscape character areas. The process involved expert knowledge from the regional and local stakeholders and tackled the descriptions (with meanings of landscape, social values, specific landscape elements, cultural traditions etc.) and assignment of geographical names for each landscape character area. Our presentation discusses the methodological issues, both GIS and especially participatory related aspects in the identification process of the landscape character areas and their applications in land use and forest planning. We also lay out a suggestion for the role and value of stakeholder participation in different stages of the characterisation process.


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