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The Social Dynamics of Mangrove Forests in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa

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Abstract

Using social and GIS/remote sensing techniques, we analysed the historical, social, political, and economic processes underlying mangrove deforestation and afforestation patterns in Guinea-Bissau to explain the increase in the mangrove forest area between 1990 and 2015. By comparing several regions during the same timeframe, we highlight different ecological dynamics and the complex ways in which diverse societies respond to the same social, economic, and political processes. Our results reveal the importance of identifying the most relevant temporal and geographic scales, and the multiple (and sometimes opposing) environmental and social processes working simultaneously in different places, as well as the potential shortcomings of policy decisions or development or conservation interventions relying on broad estimates. Research efforts to assess threats to and the regeneration capacity of mangrove forests in Guinea-Bissau are thus vital.

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Notes

  1. Unpublished data of the Institute of Meteorology of Guinea-Bissau.

  2. Results between 1990 and 2007 and between 1990 and 2010 for the whole country were published respectively by Lourenço et al. (2009) and Vasconcelos et al. (2014).

  3. This is due to the oxidation of pyrite, the acidification of the soil, and the formation of jarosite (Guiral 1999: 74–77).

  4. The worst storm occurred in 2015 and destroyed dikes all over the country creating acute food insecurity.

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Acknowledgements

This article was written as part of the project ‘The prophetess and the rice farmer: innovations in religion, agriculture and gender in Guinea-Bissau’–PTDC/AFR/111546/2009, funded by the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT). The first author also thanks Susana Gomes and the NGO Monte for the logistical support provided during the fieldwork conducted in 2014, 2015, and 2016. A first draft was presented at the seminar series of the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group (KTI)/Wageningen University and was thoroughly commented upon by Maat Harro, Kees Jansen, Thom Kuyper and Paul Struik. Acknowledgements are also due to José Miguel Pereira, Teresa Ferreira, Marie-Christine Cormier-Salem, Aleida Borges, and the editors and reviewers of Human Ecology for many critical insights.

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Correspondence to Marina Padrão Temudo.

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Temudo, M.P., Cabral, A.I. The Social Dynamics of Mangrove Forests in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. Hum Ecol 45, 307–320 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-017-9907-4

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