Ecosystem Carbon Stock, Atmosphere, and Food Security in Slash-and-Burn Land Use: A Geospatial Study in Mountainous Region of Laos

  • Yoshio Inoue
Part of the Springer Remote Sensing/Photogrammetry book series (SPRINGERREMO)


Slash-and-burn (S&B) agriculture is widely practiced as part of an important food production system in the tropical mountains of Southeast Asia. Since biomass burning is an essential part of S&B land use, its influences on atmospheric quality through aerosols and CO2 emissions are inevitable. Although the land use was previously sustainable and carbon neutral, the S&B ecosystems have become a significant source of atmospheric CO2 due to drastic land-use change in the past decades. Additionally, both the crop and labor productivity in S&B agriculture have been seriously affected by land-use change. This case study in Laos reveals the reality of the chrono-sequential change in land use and ecosystem management on a regional scale based on synergistic analysis of multi-disciplinary data. Not only the area of S&B cropping but also the frequency of biomass burning (and thus the duration of the fallow period) had a strong influence on the ecosystem’s carbon stock and, in turn, on the deterioration of land and labor productivity in crop production. Geospatial analysis on a regional scale based on the synergy of multiple data sources such as time-series satellite images, field surveillance, in-situ measurements, and on-site experiments play an important role for a better understanding of land-use change and atmospheric impacts. Since the indigenous people of this large area are highly dependent on S&B agriculture for their living, alternative S&B land-use and ecosystem management scenarios would have to improve their livelihood as well as carbon sequestration and ecosystem sustainability.


Earth observation satellite Land cover changes Slash and burn agriculture CO2 emissions Laos 



This article is based on recent analysis in addition to the multiple papers generated from a research project supported by the Global Environment Research Fund, Ministry of Environment in Japan. The contributions to the research project by collaborators from many countries are deeply appreciated. The author is grateful for the archive dataset of SPRINTARS provided by Dr. Takemura, T. (Kyushu University).


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute for Agro-Environmental SciencesTsukubaJapan

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