Zurayk, R., El-Awar, F., Hamadeh, S., Talhouk, S., Sayegh, C., Chehab, AG., Shab, KA., Using indigenous knowledge in land use investigations: A participatory study in a semi-arid mountainous region of Lebanon
, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 2001 86 (3):247-262.
The implementation of land use studies in most developing nations is often faced with the lack of data. Participatory studies offer the possibility of complementing data sets by tapping into indigenous knowledge. They also encourage the adoption of sustainable land management practices by establishing partnership and dialogue among stakeholders. This paper reports on a study in Aarsal, a semi-arid mountainous locality (36,000 ha) in Lebanon where conflicts in land use have recently emerged between pastoralists and growers. The study aimed at supporting sustainable land management in Aarsal by carrying out a land capability classification and a land use analysis. Indigenous knowledge was used as one of the information sources for the land capability classification. Most of the land area was found to be too marginal for conventional farming, and nearly 5000 ha are in serious danger of land degradation. Moreover, the shrinkage of the grazing lands caused by the expansion of orchards partly explains the reduction in the size of small ruminant flocks. The studies carried out provided a satisfactory understanding of the physical and biological land management constraints in Aarsal, fostered dialogue between the different stakeholders, and created opportunities for the identification of sustainable land management options.