Reconnaissance surveys of study sites get under way in Ethiopia

Sentinel researchers have begun the process of shortlisting study sites where there has been expansion of agriculture into natural habitats in each of the three Sentinel focal countries – Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia – beginning with Ethiopia. Following the initial site selection process, six potential sites in each country were identified.

Reconnaissance surveys have been developed to help the country teams make a rapid assessment of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of agricultural expansion. Focusing on local participation and using a range of participatory tools and field observations, the surveys aim to understand the drivers and impacts of agricultural expansion in the six pre-selected sites, as well as the potential for future expansion and feasibility of undertaking more in-depth research.

The data collected will help to select the final two research sites in each country, and will contribute directly to formulating research proposals and fieldwork over the next two years.

Researchers and associates from the Environment and Climate Research Center at the Policy Studies Institute, Ethiopia are working with UK partners from Imperial College London, the University of Reading and the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich to conduct the surveys.

The process began in July with training, testing and fine-tuning of survey methods. Survey roll-out began in early August and will continue in Ethiopia through to early September. A staggered approach will see surveys in Zambia begin in mid-August and run through to early October; in Ghana they are planned to begin in early September and run through to the end of October.