Abstract: How globalization impacts native land cover has become an important issue in studies addressing environmental change, which draw explicit attention to processes of cause and effect operating over significant distances. The literature shows that globalization constitutes an important underlying driver of both deforestation and forest transition via demographic and economic phenomena such as migration and remittance flows. Yet, little is known about how global forces mold the spatial structure of agro-commodity production and how this impacts the balance of forces affecting land change at the meso-scale, within the boundaries of the nation-state. The research presented here fills this gap by examining production networks for Mexico, a large OECD country with complex land change dynamics that has recently experienced a dramatic opening to the world economy. Specifically, we consider how maize and beef commodity chains evolved over the past few decades into a highly interdependent maize-cattle complex, and suggest linkages to patterns of land change at the national scale. Using land cover maps for 1993, 2002, and 2012, at the national scale, governmental statistics and datasets, interviews with key informants, and field observations the article provides an analysis of the impact of neoliberal reforms on the changing geography of beef and maize production, and argues that this process underlies the evolution of Mexico’s land change regime, both before and after the NAFTA reforms. As such, the article presents an account, and a case for further research on the topic of how teleconnections are constituted by spatially-extensive food production networks.
Abstract: Eutrophication caused by agriculture is an increasing ecological threat to the Baltic Sea. Modern, resource-efficient farming systems based on integrated plant and animal production, effective nutrient recycling and low external inputs can enhance multiple agro-ecosystem services, resulting in reduced pollution. Practical examples of such farming systems are not widespread. Therefore, the Baltic Ecological Recycling Agriculture and Society (BERAS) Implementation project aimed to foster this systemic shift. In this paper, agronomic strategies are described to improve nitrogen (N) efficiency for the conversion to ecological recycling agriculture (ERA). First, N farm gate balances of 22 farms in conversion are presented. They showed a large variation from −9 to 90 kg∙N∙ha−1∙a−1. Then, the use of guidelines and advisory tools to improve the nitrogen efficiency is described. The legume estimation trainer and nitrogen budget calculator help assess and optimize the nitrogen supply from legumes under farming conditions. The application of the crop rotation planning tool “ROTOR” guides advisors and farmers to identify agronomically and environmentally sound rotations. The tools can help overcome key agronomic constraints by implementing ERA. The necessity of accompanying measures from policy and the need to change food consumption patterns are discussed.
Abstract: Rainfall intensity is predicted to increase under a changing climate, leading to increased risks of hillslope erosion, downstream sedimentation and flooding. For many catchments used for grazing and agricultural land uses, it will become increasingly important to maintain ecohydrological functioning despite climatic extremes. One means to achieve this is through strategic reforestation using locally endemic species, in spatial configurations that effectively intercept, retain or and redistribute overland flows. This paper adopts a modelling approach for investigating the potential of one such design termed “integrated vegetation bands” (IVB), to increase the retention of runoff across steep hillslopes, particularly in the sub-tropics where rainstorms are becoming increasingly intense. A spatially distributed simulation model (MIKE-SHE) was applied to a steep, grazed catchment (Maronghi Creek catchment, Southeast Queensland, Australia) to compare stormwater runoff characteristics between: (1) the existing pasture land cover; and (2) a series of hypothetical IVB added across this pasture land. The IVB were approximately 20 m wide, and configured at 5% gradient towards ridgelines. Results for estimates of overland flow depth and infiltration (spatial), and accumulative water balance (temporal), confirm that the area of hillslope retaining > 10 mm/day more runoff increased by 22% under IVB compared to the pasture land use. Excluding the IVB themselves, the area of hillslope where runoff retention increased was 11%. During the most intense rainfall, IVB held up to 25% greater water depth and had 10% greater infiltration at the hillslope scale. At the sub-catchment scale, discharge decreased by 7% and infiltration increased by 23%. The findings for sub-tropical landscapes presented here are consistent with studies conducted in temperate regions. Based on the results of this preliminary modelling work, the IVB concept has been established as a paired-catchment field trial in a high rainfall catchment in Southeast Queensland, Australia.
Abstract: The identification of an appropriate justification for Agri-Environment-Climate (AEC) payments is a crucial issue in the new Rural Development Programme (RDP). Given the environmental importance of grasslands in Trentino (Italy), the Management Authority in charge of the RDP decided to integrate an approach based on Ecosystem Services (ES) into the calculation of AEC payments. The paper presents the methodology used for this approach as well as the preliminary results. The first step entails building a probabilistic model for the ES, named Sustainable Fodder Production. Model outputs are then integrated with the accounting results based on the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) database (2009–2012) with the aim of calculating the additional costs and income waived due to the environmental commitments deriving from the sustainable management of permanent grassland in livestock farming. Sustainability measures imply more extensive management practices that maintain meadows in a healthy state.
Abstract: This study investigates how two existing pan-tropical above-ground biomass (AGB) maps (Saatchi 2011, Baccini 2012) can be combined to derive forest ecosystem specific carbon estimates. Several data-fusion models which combine these AGB maps according to their local correlations with independent datasets such as the spectral bands of SPOT VEGETATION imagery are analyzed. Indeed these spectral bands convey information about vegetation type and structure which can be related to biomass values. Our study area is the island of Borneo. The data-fusion models are evaluated against a reference AGB map available for two forest concessions in Sabah. The highest accuracy was achieved by a model which combines the AGB maps according to the mean of the local correlation coefficients calculated over different kernel sizes. Combining the resulting AGB map with a new Borneo land cover map (whose overall accuracy has been estimated at 86.5%) leads to average AGB estimates of 279.8 t/ha and 233.1 t/ha for forests and degraded forests respectively. Lowland dipterocarp and mangrove forests have the highest and lowest AGB values (305.8 t/ha and 136.5 t/ha respectively). The AGB of all natural forests amounts to 10.8 Gt mainly stemming from lowland dipterocarp (66.4%), upper dipterocarp (10.9%) and peat swamp forests (10.2%). Degraded forests account for another 2.1 Gt of AGB. One main advantage of our approach is that, once the best fitting data-fusion model is selected, no further AGB reference dataset is required for implementing the data-fusion process. Furthermore, the local harmonization of AGB datasets leads to more spatially precise maps. This approach can easily be extended to other areas in Southeast Asia which are dominated by lowland dipterocarp forest, and can be repeated when newer or more accurate AGB maps become available.