SOCIOECONOMIC DRIVERS OF LAND USE INTENSIFICATION IN FIJI ISLANDS: A GEOGRAPHICAL APPROACH
Keywords: Land use intensification, shifting cultivation, Boolean operations, Fiji islands
Abstract. Shifting cultivation is a common agricultural practice in the Pacific Islands rarely sustainable today since fallow periods are ever shorter due to the demographic growth, farms fragmentation, uncertain land tenure, and pressures from the market economy among other factors (drivers). Official statistical data and maps were utilized to build up chloropleth maps indicating the areas of high land use intensity (LUI) according to farm size ranges and socioeconomic parameters (treatments) for the country. Twenty vector layers were digitized from published maps for eight ranges of farm sizes (from less than 1 to more than 100 ha), and converted to raster format with a 170 m2 pixel size. Critical maps were then built by boolean operations displaying areas in which both the land use and the socioeconomic driver were simultaneously ranked as high or very high. Treatments showed significant differences among them (p < 0.05), being the most influential those related to human demography. In farms smaller than 3 ha size land use is intense when (in order of importance) Indo-fijian population, household size and land availability values are high; while in farms of 20–50 ha size it is intense when the values of (in order of importance) population change, Indo-fijian population, land availability, fishing and sugar farming are also high. LUI patterns normally decrease with the increase of farm size, but increases on farms over 20 ha size. It is recommended to propose policies that will des-accelerate the rates of land use, such as the facilitation of land ownership over farms of bigger sizes, the gradual replacement of mono cropping by agroforestry systems, and the creation of more employment opportunities in the industry, tourism and services sectors.