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Open AccessArticle

Spatial and Ecological Farmer Knowledge and Decision-Making about Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity

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Department of Geography and Environment, Western University, Social Science Centre, London, ON N6A 5C2, Canada
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Department of Global Development, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
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Soils, Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC), P.O. Box 36 Ekwendeni, Malawi
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2020, 9(10), 356; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9100356
Received: 26 August 2020 / Revised: 21 September 2020 / Accepted: 22 September 2020 / Published: 27 September 2020
Amid climate change, biodiversity loss and food insecurity, there is the growing need to draw synergies between micro-scale environmental processes and practices, and macro-level ecosystem dynamics to facilitate conservation decision-making. Adopting this synergistic approach can improve crop yields and profitability more sustainably, enhance livelihoods and mitigate climate change. Using spatially explicit data generated through a public participatory geographic information system methodology (n = 37), complemented by spatial analysis, interviews (n = 68) and focus group discussions (n = 4), we explored the synergies between participatory farmer-to-farmer agroecology knowledge sharing, farm-level decisions and their links with macro-level prioritization of conservation strategies. We mapped farm conditions and ecosystem services (ES) of two village areas with varying knowledge systems about farming. Results of the farm-level analysis revealed variations in spatial perception among farmers, differences in understanding the dynamics of crop growth and varying priorities for extension services based on agroecological knowledge. The ES use pattern analysis revealed hotspots in the mapped ES indicators with similarities in both village areas. Despite the similarities in ES use, priorities for biodiversity conservation align with farmers’ understanding of farm processes and practices. Farmers with training in agroecology prioritized strategies that are ecologically friendly while farmers with no agroecology training prioritized the use of strict regulations. Importantly, the results show that agroecology can potentially contribute to biodiversity conservation and food security, with climate change mitigation co-benefits. The findings generally contribute to debates on land sparing and land sharing conservation strategies and advance social learning theory as it pertains to acquiring agroecological knowledge for improved yield and a sustainable environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: agroecology; agroecosystems; climate change; ecosystem services; food security; public participatory GIS; Malawi agroecology; agroecosystems; climate change; ecosystem services; food security; public participatory GIS; Malawi
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Kpienbaareh, D.; Bezner Kerr, R.; Luginaah, I.; Wang, J.; Lupafya, E.; Dakishoni, L.; Shumba, L. Spatial and Ecological Farmer Knowledge and Decision-Making about Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity. Land 2020, 9, 356.

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