Resource Management and Geography - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 159
Using in-stream extraction to accelerate the recovery of sand-bed rivers impacted by pulses of bedload sediment
Rivers can experience sudden pulses of sediment, from human and natural erosion processes, that can accumulate in the bed. Abundant studies have examined the sources and dynamics of bedload pulses, and problems they cause, particularly flooding, avulsions, and habitat simplification. Much less has been written about what managers can do about bedload pulses. This thesis examines the use of in-stream extraction to accelerate the recovery of sand-bed rivers impacted by pulses of bedload sediment. This thesis investigates the use of in-stream extraction by developing three conceptual models, and then testing each model in the Glenelg River catchment, SE Australia. The conceptual models are (1) bedload pulse dynamics at the catchment scale, (2) reach scale response of a river to a sequence of extraction pits, and (3) how a river responds to multiple interacting interventions at the tail of a bedload pulse. This thesis uses repeat channel surveys, hydraulic and sediment transport modelling, UAV surveys, geomorphic mapping and interviews with extractors to evaluate the conceptual models. Bedload pulses in the Glenelg River do not behave as migrating waves. Instead, sediment accumulates upstream of valley constrictions and a series of standing waves emerge along the river. Wave crests are static, but sediment is exchanged between each of the waves during floods. At the centennial timescale standing waves are eroded one after another, from upstream to downstream, so that their overall behaviour resembles a single, catchment-wide Aggradation Degradation Episode. Extraction pits did not refill with sediment solely by migration of the upstream end. Instead, pit refill is discharge dependant. At bankfull discharge a zone of bedload transport forms between the migrating pit head and the tail of the pit. At the same time a lobe of suspended sediment intrudes into the pit, depositing sediment on the bed of the pit and along the margins of the pit. Point bar rebuilding is controlled by the pattern of secondary circulation in low angle meander bends, and by recirculating eddies on sharp mender bends. A series of extraction pits excavated along a reach interact and cause erosion in downstream reaches. Thalweg erosion increases in a downstream direction, but the presence of in-stream vegetation (Phragmites australis) causes a greater increase in channel complexity than extraction alone. Extraction prevents existing pools from infill but does not cause new pools to scour on the outside of meander bends. A particularly surprising finding of this thesis was that in reaches at the tail of a bedload pulse, where the source of sediment has already been controlled, local-scale interventions can produce highly localised recovery. In-stream vegetation is a key component of the sequence-of-pools morphology that forms in reaches where stock have been excluded. Reaches at the tail of a bedload pulse do not interact, but become disconnected, which is in direct contrast to existing paradigms of rivers as connected systems. Managers can use these results to decide if, where and how in-stream extraction can be used to accelerate recovery in sand-bed rivers impacted by a bedload pulse.
Storytelling REDD+: Ontological Intersections and Inequalities between Global Environmental Governance and Local Lives in Papua New Guinea
This thesis is about the ontological intersections and inequalities that emerge as initiatives to manage global environmental problems, such as the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program, are translated locally in Papua New Guinea (PNG). It explores the frictions – awkward, unstable and unequal encounters – that are produced, and in turn move forward, different forms of environmental governance as they intersect with local lives in Suau, Milne Bay Province. I examine REDD+, and similarly the Cool Earth conservation program, as governance assemblages: constantly emerging and shifting networks of heterogeneous relations and elements coming together that necessarily impose power to foreground certain assumptions about reality. Through ethnographic fieldwork with communities implicated in the Central Suau REDD+ Pilot Project and a Cool Earth project, I focus on the stories people in Suau tell of climate change, land and trees, and how these stories come into friction with assumptions that underpin approaches to climate change mitigation and conservation. By engaging with Suau forms of knowledge transmission, including pilipili dai (storytelling), this work makes new contributions to how political ontology is practiced, thereby proposing ways of doing political ecology differently and engaging with decolonial research agendas. Rather than constructing ontologies as bounded, discrete entities, this thesis recognises the multiplicity of ontological assumptions intersecting and competing for primacy, as well as the politics involved in privileging certain assumptions over others. What is at stake here is not just the management of resources and livelihoods, but the very ways different people perceive and perform their realities. The core of this thesis is about inequality. It asks how the foregrounding and marginalising of assumptions enables and constrains different forms of environmental governance that may generate and reinscribe inequalities – not just inequalities between actors, but inequalities between different ways of being and knowing. By opening up space for other ways of perceiving and performing reality, this thesis works to enable different, potentially more equal, approaches to addressing environmental problems.
Between the city and the hills: educated youth rethinking the value of education and migration in north India
This thesis examines how young men in north India grappled with the challenges of being educated yet unemployed. It draws on ten months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand to show the distinct ways that mobile youth sought to produce social, economic and cultural capital. When they completed their degrees, many participants migrated from villages and a small township in the Uttarakhand hills, to a regional city to prepare for employment and to find work. These young men endured prolonged unemployment. Yet despite not finding secure jobs, some of these young men drew on their skills and competencies to create work in the private education sector. Other migrants sought to stand out by performing “rural” identities in urban settings, and “urban” identities in rural ones to consolidate their status. Another set of educated youth chose not to migrate but were trying to configure ways of being productive in rural spaces. Some of these young men “hung out” at a computer shop and developed ways of cultivating “good reputations,” others were attempting to create positive social change in villages by volunteering alongside NGOs and by tutoring young children. By drawing theories of social reproduction into conversation with debates about migration and mobility, this research advances understandings of youth, education and migration in the Global South. I argue that educated young men were attempting to leverage their credentials to realise status and respect without compromising their social affiliations and ties. In a context of widespread unemployment and migration, this in an important strategy for leaving open the possibility of rural and urban futures. The research also shows how young men engaged with derogatory constructions of the Uttarakhand hills. While attending to the significant ways that rural areas have been transformed, I argue that educated youth both invoked and challenged these representations in ways that sometimes consolidated their status.
Contrasting the effects of vegetation clearance on two insectivore communities and their prey at perennial streams in temperate Australia
The movement of organisms and material between adjacent ecosystems is a ubiquitous process. Over the last three decades, many works have uncovered factors that influence the flux of spatial subsidies. The emergence of new ecosystems via riparian vegetation clearance, for instance, can impact the quantity and quality of the spatial subsidies that move between perennial streams and riparian zones, and this likely incurs complex responses from riparian consumers. This thesis asks two main questions: 1) how does environmental variables in both the donor (streams) and recipient (riparian zones) systems as a result of riparian vegetation clearance impact the relative quantity of active subsidies? 2) Do insectivores with different mobilities and foraging behaviours respond differently to the flux of spatial subsidies and does this interact with environmental variables? I answered these questions across four empirical chapters. This thesis focused on a biome identified as both impacted by agricultural intensification and comprising important perennially flowing freshwater (on the world’s driest inhabited continent): Australia’s temperate zone. In chapter two, I demonstrate longitudinal trends in riparian vegetation clearance at our study streams and tested models relating to spatial subsidies and riparian spider responses. I conducted vegetation surveys and monitored in-stream temperature at six perennial streams that run through a riparian vegetation clearance gradient, and related these to abundances, biomass and community composition of riparian spiders and their prey (including emergent aquatic invertebrates). In chapter three, I focused on the orb-weaving spider species, Tetragnatha valida and compared the relative contributions of low flux, high quality aquatic prey and terrestrial prey to its diet at perennial streams using stable isotope analysis. In chapter four, I investigated the role of riparian vegetation structure and the abundance and biomass of emergent aquatic prey in explaining variation in the foraging activity and community composition of insectivorous bats that occupy perennial stream habitats. Finally, in chapter five I continuously monitored the activity of insectivorous bats at a survey reach to investigate potential concordance between foraging activity, moon illumination and heat accumulation by the stream. This thesis represents ‘another string in the bow’ of spatial subsidy research that focuses on biomes and taxa that are seldom studied. The literature identifies that active subsidies, including emergent aquatic invertebrates, must be studied in the context of donor and recipient ecosystem dynamics. Despite this, few studies thoroughly measure these dynamics. The present study bucks this trend and extensively surveys relevant ecosystem characteristics including in-stream temperature and vegetation structure, and in-so-doing provides valuable context which underpins diverse riparian insectivore responses to the flux of spatial subsidies. By contrasting different modes of insectivory, this thesis provides new insight into the trophic dynamics of stream-riparian systems. Studies like these are important in a rapidly changing world.
How does deforestation affect the functional links between riparian zones and stream channels?
Riparian vegetation is essential for headwater streams, as it regulates allochthonous inputs of coarse particulate organic matter (CPOM) delivered into streams. CPOM accumulates in patches across the streambed, these patches are sources of energy and shelter where ecological linkages between aquatic populations occur. This group of studies evaluate such relationships in Hughes Creek, Victoria, southern Australia. The first of these studies evaluates the evidence documented in 45 studies which were undertaken mostly in temperate or subtropical regions of the U.S.A., Canada, Spain and Australia. The main focus of these works was to evaluate the effect of deforestation upon allochthonous inputs of CPOM, often in first and second order streams. Most studies addressed airborne inputs only, while lateral surface inputs, or downstream transport of CPOM were not commonly studied. Hedges’ effect size (g) was calculated for allochthonous inputs data from the 45 articles and plotted against deforestation. A threshold for airborne inputs and benthic organic matter (BOM) standing stock was observed when deforestation reached 70%. At that level of deforestation, effect sizes decreased by up to -5 standard deviations. The second study encompassed a field survey where forested and low forested sites along the one stream were evaluated. The survey required the collection of allochthonous inputs monthly for one year, where airborne, lateral surface transfer (LST), and drifting CPOM fractions were collected in sites with contrasting forest cover. Sites with intact vegetation showed high inputs (14 kg m-2 DW year-1), while deforested reaches showed lower airborne inputs (9.25 kg m-2 DW year-1). LST inputs represented 42% of allochthonous inputs in forested reaches, and 37.5% in deforested sites. The transport of CPOM downstream was similar between forested and deforested sites (23-25 kg DW year-1). Given this similarity in CPOM transportation, and that the majority of streams in Victoria are deforested, patches of riparian forest might be an attractive management option for restoration/management of streams. However, it is necessary to be mindful of the scope and limitations of forested patches along streams, as they might not provide resources to neighbouring areas. Rather, forested sections tend to retain most of their allochthonous inputs within their boundaries. The third study of this thesis comprises a field survey where patches of CPOM, located on the streambed of forested and deforested reaches, were collected in Summer, Spring and Winter. CPOM was separated intro fractions of leaves, bark and twigs. It was found that the type of cover did not modify the mass of CPOM fractions between forested and deforested reaches (p > 0.05). However, the results show significant differences between Sites within Forest Cover for all fractions, with exception of leaf material. The dominant patterns suggest high variation between sites and shifts between seasons. In relation to the contribution of each fraction provided to CPOM benthic standing stock, it was found that during the three sampling seasons, benthic CPOM composition was dominated by, in decreasing order, twigs, bark, leaf, and grass. Additionally, macroinvertebrates found in CPOM patches were separated and sorted into genus and species when possible. The analysis of species densities between forested and deforested sites show that Simulium ornatipes and Ecnomina F sp. densities differed between the two types of forest cover, while the remaining species showed no differences. However, Simulium ornatipes showed strong differences between sites. Ecnomina F sp. was the only taxon to show a significant difference related to forest cover, without having a substantial difference between sites within the same forest cover. On the other hand, Ecnomus continentalis, Notalina sp., Chemautopsyche sp, Hydroptila, Berosus (larvae), and Micronecta sp. showed higher significant differences in summer; whereas Chemautopsyche sp. and Hydroptila sp. densities were minimal in patches during spring. The regressions between the mass of CPOM and density of species showed that some presented negative relationships between specimens’ density and the increase of CPOM mass, as illustrated by Ecnomia F sp., Cheumatopsyche sp., and Nousia sp. The last study of this thesis was a field experiment where the size and spatial distribution of CPOM patches was manipulated, due to small-scale fragmentation being predicted to affect species densities, particularly where patches are ephemeral or organisms are transported advectively. CPOM patches were deployed in two possible configurations (a) one big patch treatment (BPT), comprised of 12 smaller sub-patches of the same size, and (b) 12 split patches (SPT), which were distributed across the streambed. Patches from the split treatment were of two sizes, double (300 cm2) and single (150 cm2). BPT and SPT patches from both treatments were oriented randomly on the stream (parallel or perpendicular) with respect to water flow. After 10 days, samples were collected of 13 common macroinvertebrates which had colonised the patches. It was found that the genera Offadens spp. and Notriolus spp. had responded to the orientation of patches in both treatments. Moreover, in SPT sites Offadens spp., Cheumatopsyche spp., and Notriolus spp. showed significantly higher densities in small patches, suggesting that species densities, which show no searching strategies for resources, are likely to be affected by patch size. The knowledge generated in this thesis provides a greater understanding of the effect upon macroinvertebrates densities by deforestation of a creek that flows through agricultural lands in southern Australian.
Reframing Ocean Acidification: Addressing an emergent governance problem under existing multilateral environmental agreements
Ocean acidification is increasingly recognized as a potentially devastating threat to marine ecosystems and the goods and services they provide. Despite this, no existing multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) explicitly requires a response to it and the issue remains largely unaddressed in international environmental law and policy. Many scholars and practitioners have sought to address ocean acidification under existing agreements, largely via proposals for treaty amendments or the conclusion of new legal instruments such as implementing agreements or protocols. Implementation of these proposals has been limited. The thesis takes an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the possible MEA governance of ocean acidification. This is done by analysing existing treaty texts through alternative problem frames (treaty interpretation) and comparing their capacity to respond to ocean acidification against an idealized version of ocean acidification governance (gap-analysis). This thesis contends that the current framing of ocean acidification as a CO2 problem concurrent to climate change has resulted in the problem being regarded as predominantly outside the mandates of most MEAs, thereby narrowing the scope of responses available and creating significant gaps in the global governance architecture for ocean acidification. It argues that the utilization of alternative problem frames can situate the issue more effectively within existing MEA mandates, thereby opening up response options without the need for the development of new legal instruments.
Mapping experiential-expertise and risk using qualitative GIS on hazardous rocky coasts
Drownings on hazardous rocky coasts are a global problem but are an especially acute issue in Australia where they account for 19% of all coastal drownings. The risk of drowning while fishing from rocky coasts is primarily understood as an outcome of overtopping waves sweeping ‘rock fishers’ off rocky platforms and into the sea, with associated solutions focusing primarily on raising awareness of this risk. Few studies have explored how rock fishers perceive risk, nor how their length of experience influences their behaviour. This thesis explores the different ways that rock fishers perceive risk as well as how closely ‘experiential-experts’ perceptions align with rock fishing-related drowning incidents in the National Coronial Information System (NCIS). Experienced fishers are considered noncertified experiential-experts, whose repeated first-hand experience with risk informs their ‘expert’ perceptions. An innovative mixed methodology integrating qualitative GIS methods was used to address five key areas: First, exploring the spatial and temporal processes that differentiate risk perceptions of experienced from inexperienced rock fishers is done by conceptualising risk as relational. Second, the different ways fishers move through and map hazardous space is explored. Overlaying fishers’ GPS movement with sketch maps is used to visualise how fishers with different lengths of experience navigate and represent their everyday practices in hazardous space. Third, experiential-experts’ perceptions of ‘freak waves’ are compared to rock fishing-related drowning incidents in the NCIS. Fourth, experiential-experts’ perceptions of how fishers enter the sea and drown are compared to how drownings are reported in the NCIS. Lastly, fishers’ collective risk management practices are discussed with reference to the predominant framing of risk as an individualized phenomenon. Results suggest that years of experience in hazardous coastal environments helps fishers become more capable of anticipating and reacting to hazardous situations ‘safely’ because they are more attuned to how changing conditions affect risk. This includes experiential-experts’ attunement to where, how, and why risk will emerge in different spaces, depending on the daily interrelationships between coastal conditions. Attunement to how these interrelations affect site-specific hazards was also used to challenge common myths (e.g. freak waves) perpetuated by the media and in government signage. This draws attention to the spatial and temporal phenomenon that drives risk perceptions as well as the implications for future perception-oriented research that adopts a relational understanding. By adopting a relational understanding of risk, this thesis also opens new possibilities for understanding human-environment systems, which typically overlook how, where, and for how long risky human-environment interactions are perceived in space, if at all. The results may inform coastal risk managers as they consider experiential-experts' perceptions of the human-environment interactions that produce risk and the relational ways in which people anticipate and react to risk while undertaking hazardous activities.
High-rise living in the middle-class suburb: a geography of tactics and strategies
Within new configurations of the ‘Great Australian Dream’, high-rise living in Australian cities has become not only an acceptable housing configuration for the middle classes but also a desirable one. Enquiring deeply into the tactics and strategies that building inhabitants use to live vertically in the city, this thesis explores the ways in which the design, inhabitation, and maintenance of middle-class high-rise developments are negotiated in Melbourne inner-suburbs. It explores dwellers’ agency in the negotiation of design choices and co-production of high-rise spaces, using mixed qualitative methods combining walking tours and semi-directed interviews. Drawing on the new geography of architecture and on a relational approach to housing and home, the research engages with a theory of practice acknowledging tactical and strategic actions in the city. It argues that dwellers reshape the socio-material configurations and spatial relations of apartment living set by designers, developers and housing technologists. Explicitly recognising of the role of social class in high-rise living, the research suggests that apartment developments are highly contested sites where intended lifestyles and aspirations are negotiated by varied institutions and actors, through a distinctive set of temporal and spatial actions. It finds that competing actors all work towards the co-production of high-rise living spaces and cultures. However, the thesis also shows that housing relations in the practice of middle-class apartment living outline an uneven and changing distribution of power between those who develop strategies and those who craft tactics. More broadly, this research opens up a deeper understanding of how this new kind of vertical city reflects and transforms configurations of status, power and identity in the Australian suburb.
A northward shift of the Southern Westerlies during the Antarctic cold reversal: evidence from Tasmania, Australia
The Southern Hemisphere Westerlies are one of the most important components of the Earth’s climate system: they are the primary driver of Southern Hemisphere climate, they modulate global ocean circulation patterns, and they are a critical natural driver of atmospheric CO2 variation. Despite their clear importance, their dynamics in response to rapid changes in climate boundary conditions are poorly understood. Critical to this lack of understanding is (1) an absence of robust proxy-data from the Australian sector of the Southern Hemisphere, which hampers attempts at predictive modelling, and (2) a lack of consensus within the palaeoclimate literature as to how the Southern Westerlies have responded to past periods of rapid climate change. A case in point is the behaviour of the Southern Westerlies during the Antarctic Cold Reversal (ACR; 14,000 – 13,700 years ago), a millennial-scale climate event that punctuated the termination of the Last Ice Age in the Southern Hemisphere. A thorough understanding of how this critical climate component changed during the ACR is hampered by the only available proxy-dataset from the Australian sector of the Southern Hemisphere, which disagrees with records from other regions, and with the leading conceptual understanding of Southern Westerly dynamics. To address this discord, this thesis sought to reconstruct the dynamics of the Southern Westerlies in the Australian sector by developing two robust terrestrial proxy-datasets from Tasmania, Australia, covering the ACR. The results from this thesis demonstrate that the Southern Westerlies responded to the climatic changes of the ACR as predicted by the leading conceptual understanding of their dynamics, and also revealed that they responded symmetrically across the Southern Hemisphere, coincident with substantial changes in atmospheric CO2 variation. This thesis supports the hypotheses that the Southern Westerlies are the primary determinant of long-term Tasmanian climate variation and are a critical regulator of long-term global atmospheric CO2 variation.
Floodplain avulsion channels: understanding their distribution and how they reconnect to the parent channel
This study is concerned with new river channels that develop on floodplains. These channels can develop gradually, or they can develop more rapidly (avulsions). This study concentrates on the relatively more rapid channel changes known as avulsions. An avulsion specifies the gradual abandonment of an existing river-channel and in response to this, the processes of development of a new channel on a floodplain nearby. The study addresses two specific knowledge gaps: 1) how common are river floodplain avulsions globally, and 2) what are the detailed processes that occur at the up and downstream points where avulsions connect to the main channel? Using random sampling from a global spatial layer I discovered that developing avulsions are extremely common on alluvial floodplains globally, wherever the floodplain is wider than several channel widths. Avulsions are most common on single thread meandering floodplain types, but a review of avulsion literature shows that research is biased to relatively less common floodplain types. Avulsions increase the rate of valley widening, particularly in narrow floodplains. There is a relationship between floodplain width and the number of avulsion channels. The rest of the thesis is focussed in the major process knowledge gap which is how avulsion channels connect into the main channel at the up and downstream ends. The focus of the process component of this study is the broad Murray river floodplain from Yarrawonga to Echuca, SE Australia. I mapped and classified developing channels on the floodplain and found that the avulsion connection point here develops in an unusual way, involving the development and coalescence of low points (depressions) on the levee (this mechanism is very different from normal crevasse splay development). The chain of low points on the alluvial levee coalesce to form a levee channel. Rather than forming by erosion as expected from the literature, form progressively by locally reduced vertical accretion. This identifies a new process by which topography is developed on floodplains. Initially the levee channels are not connected with the Murray main stream and slope away from the river. The connection occurs by lateral migration of the river bank into the levee channel, but also by progressive upslope (river ward) migration of the deepest part of the levee channel towards the river, narrowing the gap between the river and the levee channel. Following connection, the levee channel captures flow from the river, and hydraulic modelling shows that shear stress is sufficient to erode the upstream end of the levee channel. As the channel erodes the shear stress declines, but the proportion of back-flow from the flood recession increases. The result is that the slope of the levee channel reverses to slope towards the river. This is a new mechanism, and it is critical in the sequence of avulsion development. The final stage of the development of avulsion is when a knickzone moves up the levee channel joining another levee channel that is leaving the river upvalley. This is new mechanism of avulsion likely to operate in low energy river systems dominated by fine-grained sediments.
Just adaptation at resource frontiers: climate and empowerment in post-Soviet northern Russia
Despite an emerging interest in integrating climate policy and development goals, little is known about the potential synergies and trade-offs in resource extraction regions, particularly for Indigenous and rural communities that host resource projects. This thesis explores the institutional and political context in two resource extraction regions that shape resource development and climate change outcomes and mediate planning and implementation of initiatives to support adaptation decisions. The aim of the thesis is to identify the potential of climate change adaptation to contribute to the development of more equitable outcomes and processes for host communities. I present a conceptual framework called ‘just adaptation at resource frontiers’ that seeks to explicate the cross-scale political economy and ecological forces acting in the context of a changing global economy and climate change. The framework is applied and refined based on an empirical study, using interviews, purposive observations, focus groups and document analysis, in four cases in the Republic of Komi and the Republic of Sakha in Arctic and sub-Arctic Russia. Here, Indigenous subsistence-based and rural livelihoods face 'double exposure' to expanding oil exploitation and the impacts of climate change. Host communities bear the impacts inequitably, and they lack recognition of their rights and effective participation in governance. Despite different contexts between case study communities in Komi and Yakutia, the findings show that a) the impacts of oil exploitation and climate change intersect and manifest in altering the dynamics of environmental degradation, resulting in adverse societal outcomes; b) community responses incorporate traditional orders, reproducing governance patterns from the Soviet era, hindered by the state and private interests that favour oil exploitation; c) expansion of oil exploitation is determined by power and politics cutting across the legacies of the past, imaginative geographies of hydrocarbon resources, struggles for resource rents, and struggles over authority and recognition; d) relational injustice mediates the power of communities to shape adaptation decisions in relation to oil projects; e) collective action to fight environmental pollution and inequitable outcome and processes has emerged, and increasingly using climate change narratives rather than opposing the hydrocarbon sector directly. The thesis argues that there is a need to conceptualise and develop adaptation pathways (and pathways towards development) that avoid 'double exposure' in resource frontiers, and this can be achieved by a more nuanced understanding of cross-scale power dynamics and justice as a starting point. The thesis contributes to knowledge by offering conceptual, methodological and policy insights into a more holistic understanding of adaptation in resource extraction regions, specifically in northern Russia.
Behind the scenes of land grabbing: conflict, competition, and the gendered implications for local food production and rural livelihoods in Cameroon
Large-scale land acquisitions or land grabbing are widespread – cutting across almost all parts of the developing world – Asia, Latin America and Africa. In recent years, this phenomenon has grown at unprecedented rates with Africa being the most targeted continent. In Cameroon, although land grabbing is raising prospects for national-level benefits, it is generating increasing tensions with local communities who suffer from dispossession of land and natural resources. This thesis examines the dynamics associated with the loss of land in a particular context in Nguti subdivision of the South West Region of Cameroon. It focuses on five communities in the region whose lands were earmarked by the state for the development of monoculture oil palm plantations. The main research objectives were to explore local perceptions and reactions to this phenomenon; but also to examine how it disproportionately affects men and women and its implications for local food production and rural livelihoods. This research is framed by studies of the ‘global land grab’; local communities’ livelihood strategies; womens’ access to land and forest resources; and land management and governance in Cameroon. Fieldwork included interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation. To attain the above objectives, four stand-alone empirical chapters are included in this thesis, each addressing particular research questions. My research questions query: 1) ‘why do people contest the establishment of commercial oil palm plantations on ancestral land and in what ways do they struggle for incorporation’; 2) ‘Why and how does land acquisition generates conflict within communities and with the agro-company/state’; 3) ‘How do men and women perceive and react to land grabbing projects’; 4) ‘In what ways does land grabbing disproportionately affect men and women; and what implications does it have for womens’ food production in particular, and rural livelihoods in general’? Broadly, this thesis offers insights into the complexities and challenges that confront heterogeneous local communities as a result of the acquisition of land hitherto accessed by them to sustain rural livelihoods. Specifically, it a) demonstrates that local communities are not necessarily against large-scale investments in land; rather their concern is how they can benefit from it without detriment, particularly if they lose access to their most fertile agricultural lands, b) explores some of the complexities that the ‘elite-dominated’ and corrupt land deals have generated, with particular reference to cross-scale governance, inter-village conflicts and community resistance in the region, c) shows that amidst societal discrimination over land ownership rights, perceptual differences between men and women appears rational in the event of land grabbing – men follow their ascribed roles in overt reactions, while women tend to be much less active and vocal in contesting land acquisition, despite the fact that the land acquired were mostly used by women to generate household food security, d) demonstrates how pre-existing land tenure systems combined with contemporary statutory land laws to accord men greater power over land to the detriment of women; posing severe implications for womens’ food production and rural livelihoods, and e) proposes policy recommendations that if instituted will help benefit the state, local communities and land investors. While this study specifically targets individuals, whose livelihoods are strictly tied to land and forest resources in the region, I also emphasized the roles of other actors such as village chiefs, local politicians, NGO personnel, and government authorities in shaping and influencing the dynamics around land grabbing in Nguti subdivision.