MOUNTAIN FUTURES

LAND SYSTEMS: MANAGING COMPLEXITY

Effective management of complex land systems in mountains requires synthesizing insights and knowledge on patterns of land system changes. Events in this theme will explore how such knowledge can be utilised to produce tools and methods that enable policy-makers and communities to plan for and adapt to global change.

  • Changes in Land Use – Migration, Climate Change, Policy Shifts, Resource Commodification, Large-scale Land Acquisitions
  • Landscape Management and Restoration – Protecting Landscapes from Detrimental Practices, New Advances in Restoring Ecological Health and Productivity
  • Sustainable Agricultural Systems – Agroforestry, Hybrid Knowledge Systems, and Implications for the Environment, Policy-making and Communities

 

Changes in Land Use

Land use is a major driver of global change, from food security to climate change to biodiversity loss and access to water. The field of land use and land systems therefore offers the opportunity to design solutions which simultaneously address multiple challenges; however, it also means that such solutions must balance complex trade-offs and synergies at multiple scales, which demands multiple paradigms and perspectives.

Land systems science offers a way to synthesize research across different scales in order to deliver insights about the functioning of the socio-ecological system. Improving our understanding of the drivers of land use change is not the end goal of research, but a vital precondition for the design of systems which foster sustainable human-environment interactions. This can be achieved through the integration of stakeholder engagement, multi-disciplinary cooperation and innovation in land system solutions.

This session will address the following questions:

  • How are patterns of land use and their drivers changing in different mountain regions? What commonalities and differences are apparent, and what conclusions can we draw from this?
  • How can different insights from different disciplines and methodologies be integrated to analyse land systems?
  • How can we design solutions which manage the trade-offs inherent in different land uses while enabling a move towards sustainable human-environment interactions?


Landscape Restoration

Land degradation and the increasing demand for land from agriculture, mining, infrastructure and urbanisation threaten to undermine the natural systems on which society depends. At the same time, the global community has committed itself to meeting environmental targets including achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN), safeguarding biodiversity and mitigating climate change, and developing countries in particular are struggling with the added burdens this requires. In addition, the large-scale investment predicted to occur under China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative has pushed restoration up the political and public agenda, opening a window of opportunity for novel approaches which can restore land to full ecological health and productivity at large scale and low cost.

This session will address the following questions:

  • What approaches offer the best return for investment in terms of restoration outcomes?
  • How can restoration projects attract private sector capital and partner with private sector firms to integrate restoration into their business models?
  • How can land restoration be systematically integrated with investment and activities connected with the Belt and Road initiative?


Sustainable Agriculture Systems

Mountain landscapes harbor a diverse array of species and cultures, and are vital sources of ecosystem services. However, the monoculture farming of commodity crops is increasingly expanding into mountain areas previously covered by forest or more diverse farming systems. This means that mountain communities must navigate a complex series of trade-offs including biodiversity loss, increased market opportunities, increased vulnerability to market volatility, and reduced diversity of livelihoods while also coping with the unpredictable impacts of climate change. Agroforestry and other options for sustainable livelihoods offer ways to address the negative impacts of agricultural commodities such as rubber, coffee, banana and palm oil, but the benefits of such systems may only be apparent in the long term or when evaluating effects such as improved soil health and resilience to climate change.

This session will address the following questions:

  • How can we ensure that the expansion of commodity agriculture does not damage the provision of ecosystem services in mountain regions?
  • How can we bridge the gaps between science-driven agricultural innovations with traditional ecological knowledge and with government policies?

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LAND SYSTEMS: MANAGING COMPLEXITY

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