Local Perception of Land Degradation in Developing Countries: A Simplified Analytical Framework of Driving Forces, Processes, Indicators and Coping Strategies
Programs addressing land conservation are not succeeding where they are most needed. Understanding, preventing and mitigating land degradation (LD) at the local scale seem to require more than technical knowledge and perception by external agents such as agricultural advisors and government officials. The main purpose of this paper is to identify the factors determining farmers’ decisions to adopt land conservation practices in the local context. We argue that peasant decision-making procedures are strongly based on their perceptions of the forces that drive degradation. First, we summarize and rank prominent driving forces in LD particularly at the local level. Next, we discuss how local perception and traditional knowledge, including local indicators, have been addressed in published studies. Finally, we inspect the attitudes and strategies to cope with degradation from the perspective of local communities as reported in the scientific literature. We conclude that local communities should not be expected to simply adopt suggested practices; they may rather be supported to develop their own projects on the basis of their indicators and perception of LD, and their own survival priorities.