Hillslope Terracing

Full Title

Global synthesis of hillslope terracing: Building new tools for environmental management


Hillslope terracing is an intensive form of environmental management that has important implications for sustainability. This project explores the diverse socio-environmental contexts of terracing projects around the world, seeking to understand the characteristics of successful and unsuccessful efforts. By synthesizing data derived from more than 50 years of field-based research and case studies, in addition to over 40,000 pages of governmental data on 21st century terracing programs in Mexico, the following questions are addressed:

  1. What terrace forms have proven to be most sustainable?
  2. Where and in what socio-environmental contexts are terraces most successful?
  3. When were the most successful terraces built? And,
  4. Why have they lasted so long?

Qualitative data analysis (QDA) and thematic coding software will reveal relationships among socio-environmental factors, while regression analysis will help expose relationships between socioeconomic and geographic variables. Finally, a geographic information system (GIS), used to conduct spatial analysis of terrace systems at national (Mexico) and global scales, will integrate results from qualitative and quantitative analysis. As terracing programs continue to grow in number and scope, synthesis research on terrace systems could help identify the socio-environmental drivers of sustainability, proving a valuable tool for environmental management.

Project Type
Postdoctoral Fellowship
Principal Investigators