and spatial scientists; therefore, the applications of remote sensing technology tended to emphasize resource assessments and far less on social sciences and its importance in understanding the role of people as agents of environmental change and land use and land cover dynamics.
Population researchers and the remote sensing and GIS research community became active during the second initiative. The Nang Rong projects, which began in the early 1980s, began to focus on land use and land cover change partially in response to questions about global warming, environmental degradation, and human behavior. The links between global warming and land cover change, especially deforestation and reforestation, were in the process of being established (e.g., Meyer and Turner, 1992; Kasperson et al., 1995; Houghton et al., 1999; Lambin et al., 1999). We were primarily a team of sociologist-demographers, adding environment, geography, and GIS science expertise in the early 1990s. The issue of land use and land cover change fit our preexisting theoretical concerns. Global change issues provided additional impetus.
In this chapter, we describe the portion of our ongoing work in Nang Rong, Thailand, relevant to the human dimensions of global environmental change, with an emphasis on mapping and modeling patterns and dynamics of land use and land cover by linking people, place, and environment in fundamental ways to address research questions that extend across the social, natural, and spatial sciences and that require integration of data, methods, and perspectives.
What are the reciprocal relations between population change and landscape dynamics? How do these relations operate at different social, spatial, environmental, and temporal scales? What are the scale, pattern, and process relationships that extend across social, biophysical, and geographical domains? These are the large questions that motivate our research. We have not tended to begin with substantive environmental questions and then create links to people and place. Rather, we have posed basic questions that seek to understand how social change and environmental change are linked. Adapting the research questions to our research setting, the scales at which we work, and the information and tools that are either available or possible to devise, we have focused on migration and household formation as engines of population change, as well as on deforestation, the expansion of rice production, the resource endowments of sites, geographic connections between places, and the introduction of upland crops as fundamental aspects of land use and land cover change. We have studied these issues at seasonal, annual, and decadal scales and at fine to coarse spatial scales over the past half-century, and we have considered the