Human Ecology

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 541–555 | Cite as

Spatial Representation of Land Use and Population Density: Integrated Layers of Data Contribute to Environmental Planning in Vanuatu



We propose the integration of six data layers (topography, isohyets, soil potential, household localization, vegetation types and land lease titles) to assess the constraints facing food production in Vanuatu, Melanesia. All layers are digitalized allowing area computations of polygons associated with the various data sets. For each island, the following are computed: total area, good arable land area, coconut plantations, pastures/grasslands, area under land lease titles and average accessible good land per household. Although Vanuatu is often considered as not densely populated (19 hab/km2), results indicate great variation among islands. The average area of good land per household varies from 530 ha on the island of Tegua (North) to 0.5 ha on Futuna (South). Shifting cultivation does not appear to be a serious threat to the environment. The establishment of coconut plantations and permanent pastures represents the main cause of deforestation and contributes to increased pressure on land used for food production. The integration of layers of data is a powerful tool for improving environmental planning in an archipelago under growing human pressure and natural changes.


Data layers Food Security Landscapes and uses Shifting cultivation Vanuatu 



This study would not have been possible without the financial support of the ANR (Agence Nationale pour la Recherche, France) through the project “Végé-Culture” (no ANR-10-STRA-007) and the Ministry of Quarantine, Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry of Vanuatu. We want to thank L. Ramon for expert advice regarding GIS software manipulation and S. Bedford for his valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper. Our sincere thanks also go to R. Bakeo, C. Bartlett, B. Lenge, K. Robertson and K. Vurobaravu for facilitating the access to governmental services data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CREDO (Marseille) - Géo-ConsultePort-VilaVanuatu
  2. 2.CIRADMontpellierFrance
  3. 3.CIRAD, UMR AGAPMontpellier cédex 5France

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