Adaptation of Human Coping Strategies in a Small Island Society in the SW Pacific—50 Years of Change in the Coupled Human–Environment System on Bellona, Solomon Islands
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- Reenberg, A., Birch-Thomsen, T., Mertz, O. et al. Hum Ecol (2008) 36: 807. doi:10.1007/s10745-008-9199-9
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Coupled human–environmental timelines are used to explore the temporal coevolution of driving forces and adaptive strategies from the 1960s to 2006 on Bellona in the SW Pacific. Climatic events and agro-environmental conditions are assessed in conjunction with issues such as population dynamics, agricultural strategies, non-agricultural activities, transport and infrastructure, migration, education, political conditions, etc. Satellite imagery and aerial photos reveal relative stability in agricultural land use intensity despite an increase in de facto population (51% from 1966–2006). Results of questionnaire survey of 48 households show that the utilization of natural resources (notably shifting cultivation and fisheries) remains widespread, although it is increasingly supplemented by other income generating activities (e.g., shopkeeping, private business, government employment). Group interviews are used to discuss ways in which the local communities’ adaptive resource management strategies have been employed in the face of climatic and socioeconomic events and changes in the recent past. Fifty years’ development is described as a combination of continuity and change. Resource management practices are only marginally impacted by different stress factors, but the importance of agriculture has been decreasing in relative terms. Culturally determined bonds have become a main ‘mechanism’ to cope with environmental or socioeconomic stress and the Bellonese have become less vulnerable to external shocks.