This dissertation investigates livelihood and land use change dynamics in a community at the farm-forest periphery in highland Ethiopia. I use interviews and livelihood assessment data to compare the strategies used by members of different wealth groups to negotiate and maintain access to forest resources, and integrate socioeconomic, bio-physical and spatially explicit data to examine changing land use and household vulnerability. This approach sheds new light on scalar aspects of poverty-environment relationships with implications for environmental justice and rural development policy.
Chapter one provides an overview of the context and approach to this research. Chapter two illustrates the importance of scale in understanding household vulnerability. It uses diverse data to describe political, historic, biophysical and economic factors that shape vulnerability. Chapter three describes household livelihoods and increasing foreign investment pressure in Ethiopia's natural forests, with an emphasis on the history of forest management and access in the study site. It describes processes of forest boundary making and conflict in the study area. Chapter four outlines two scenarios to describe the amount of agricultural land required to replace forest incomes in the community under study. These scenarios, termed "fuelwood replacement" and "fuelwood replacement with agricultural intensification," use agricultural land as a proxy for fuelwood incomes, retaining the connection to physical space that is inherent to natural resources, rather than presenting abstracted monetary values that disassociate resources from power and access dynamics. Chapter five draws together unifying ideas, outlines policy recommendations and describes areas for future research.