Satellite mapping contributes significantly to ecological studies of landscape composition and structure but needs to better engage local populations in more culturally sensitive assessments of diversity patterns. This study examines how participatory mapping can contribute to land-cover analyses derived from satellite data of landscapes in the Manaslu Conservation Area (MCA), Nepal. Landscapes were mapped by local residents, first on paper and again on a geo-registered Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) scene, for April 7, 2010. Local landscape knowledge from men and women was transferred from participatory maps to the classified satellite image to create an integrated landscape map for the MCA. Participatory maps added the significance of “place” to the evaluation of landscape diversity (n = 276 named places for women and 315 for men). The classification of the TM image resulted in seven land cover types with only 10% of the land classified as forests, which are highly fragmented. The final map combined local landscape knowledge (n = 43 places mapped on the TM image and n = 21 from the transect walks) with the empirical classification of land cover types, increasing the spatial understanding of MCA as a “place” of material use and cultural meaning. This integrative map, as process and outcome, promoted collaborative learning about local places and local peoples’ perspectives on their landscape, which can contribute to more adaptive landscape planning and conservation of forest and livelihood resources.
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Vol. 36 • No. 2