The role of traditional land use systems in the well-being of rural Timor-Leste
Natural ecosystems and traditional land use systems have an important role in the life and well being of the rural population of Timor-Leste. The land itself is the support of natural ecosystems and subsistence agriculture of rural populations of East Timor and is the main focus of this research. This paper is part of work in progress. Our research, located in rural Timor-Leste focuses on land tenure, rural family income and the mechanisms that will induce changes in the rules of traditional society organisation. The main objectives of this paper are: 1) to identify the different land use patterns of Timor-Leste; 2) to identify the goods and services produced by them and 3) to relate the services produced by land use patterns with the well-being of Timor-Leste rural population. This paper is based on a multidisciplinary approach incorporating contributions from several fields of knowledge, and uses documentary sources, direct observations made in various periods in the field and interviews conducted in 2003, 2009 and 2010. We identify as the main land use patterns in Timor-Leste the following ones: natural and semi-natural ecosystems, subsistence agriculture, sacred, housing and basic infrastructures and Industries and services. For Timor-Leste rural communities the above land use patterns produce a set of goods and services, which can be classified as supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural goods and services, and those are essential for their survival and well-being. The conceptual framework used to examine the above mentioned issues is the human rights approach to development within which human rights are considered as means and objectives of development as much as economic purposes.
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