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Title: Drivers and trajectories of land cover change in East Africa: Human and environmental interactions from 6000 years ago to present
Authors: Rob Marchant
Suzi Richer
Oliver Boles
Claudia Capitani
Colin J. Courtney-Mustaphi
Paul Lane
Mary E. Prendergast
Daryl Stump
Gijs De Cort
Jed O. Kaplan
Leanne Phelps
Andrea Kay
Dan Olago
Nik Petek
Philip J. Platts
Paramita Punwong
Mats Widgren
Stephanie Wynne-Jones
Cruz Ferro-Vázquez
Jacquiline Benard
Nicole Boivin
Alison Crowther
Aida Cuní-Sanchez
Nicolas J. Deere
Anneli Ekblom
Jennifer Farmer
Jemma Finch
Dorian Fuller
Marie José Gaillard-Lemdahl
Lindsey Gillson
Esther Githumbi
Tabitha Kabora
Rebecca Kariuki
Rahab Kinyanjui
Elizabeth Kyazike
Carol Lang
Julius Lejju
Kathleen D. Morrison
Veronica Muiruri
Cassian Mumbi
Rebecca Muthoni
Alfred Muzuka
Emmanuel Ndiema
Chantal Kabonyi Nzabandora
Isaya Onjala
Annemiek Pas Schrijver
Stephen Rucina
Anna Shoemaker
Senna Thornton-Barnett
Geert van der Plas
Elizabeth E. Watson
David Williamson
David Wright
Kyambogo University
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Linnaeus University, Växjö
Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies, Mahidol University
Mbarara University of Science and Technology
Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute
Royal Museum for Central Africa
Kenya Wildlife Service
University of Nairobi
National Museums of Kenya
Universiteit Gent
University of Cambridge
University of Queensland
St. Louis University
Stockholms universitet
University of York
University of Witwatersrand
University of Aberdeen
Seoul National University
University of Kent
University of KwaZulu-Natal
University of Pennsylvania
Uppsala Universitet
University of South Africa
University of Cape Town
Université de Lausanne (UNIL)
L'Université Officielle de Bukavu
Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD)
ARVE Research SARL
Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology
Carbon Foundation of East Africa
Keywords: Earth and Planetary Sciences
Issue Date: 1-Mar-2018
Citation: Earth-Science Reviews. Vol.178, (2018), 322-378
Abstract: © 2018 Elsevier B.V. East African landscapes today are the result of the cumulative effects of climate and land-use change over millennial timescales. In this review, we compile archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data from East Africa to document land-cover change, and environmental, subsistence and land-use transitions, over the past 6000 years. Throughout East Africa there have been a series of relatively rapid and high-magnitude environmental shifts characterised by changing hydrological budgets during the mid- to late Holocene. For example, pronounced environmental shifts that manifested as a marked change in the rainfall amount or seasonality and subsequent hydrological budget throughout East Africa occurred around 4000, 800 and 300 radiocarbon years before present (yr BP). The past 6000 years have also seen numerous shifts in human interactions with East African ecologies. From the mid-Holocene, land use has both diversified and increased exponentially, this has been associated with the arrival of new subsistence systems, crops, migrants and technologies, all giving rise to a sequence of significant phases of land-cover change. The first large-scale human influences began to occur around 4000 yr BP, associated with the introduction of domesticated livestock and the expansion of pastoral communities. The first widespread and intensive forest clearances were associated with the arrival of iron-using early farming communities around 2500 yr BP, particularly in productive and easily-cleared mid-altitudinal areas. Extensive and pervasive land-cover change has been associated with population growth, immigration and movement of people. The expansion of trading routes between the interior and the coast, starting around 1300 years ago and intensifying in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries CE, was one such process. These caravan routes possibly acted as conduits for spreading New World crops such as maize (Zea mays), tobacco (Nicotiana spp.) and tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), although the processes and timings of their introductions remains poorly documented. The introduction of southeast Asian domesticates, especially banana (Musa spp.), rice (Oryza spp.), taro (Colocasia esculenta), and chicken (Gallus gallus), via transoceanic biological transfers around and across the Indian Ocean, from at least around 1300 yr BP, and potentially significantly earlier, also had profound social and ecological consequences across parts of the region. Through an interdisciplinary synthesis of information and metadatasets, we explore the different drivers and directions of changes in land-cover, and the associated environmental histories and interactions with various cultures, technologies, and subsistence strategies through time and across space in East Africa. This review suggests topics for targeted future research that focus on areas and/or time periods where our understanding of the interactions between people, the environment and land-cover change are most contentious and/or poorly resolved. The review also offers a perspective on how knowledge of regional land-use change can be used to inform and provide perspectives on contemporary issues such as climate and ecosystem change models, conservation strategies, and the achievement of nature-based solutions for development purposes.
ISSN: 00128252
Appears in Collections:Scopus 2018

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