Special Issue "Agricultural Ecosystem Services"

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Robert B. Richardson

Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University, 480 Wilson Road, Room 305, East Lansing, MI 48824-1222, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: ecological economics; sustainable development; ecosystem services; energy security; food security
Guest Editor
Dr. Leo Zulu

Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences, Michigan State University, 673 Auditorium Rd, Room 123, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 517-432-4744
Interests: political ecology; environment and development; community-based natural resources management; deforestation; food security

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nations throughout the world face a range of environmental challenges due to population growth and global climate change. The purpose of this Special Issue is to collate the latest research on broadly-defined agricultural ecosystems services to enhance holistic and sustainable resource utilization and socio-economic development, particularly in developing regions. The Special Issue will feature nationally and regionally appropriate research that links science to policy and action, making this research available to natural resource-management practitioners (policy makers, resource managers, extension services and others), tertiary-level students and the research community with the view of promoting science-based policy-making and practice. In the context of the proposed Special Issue, ecosystem services are broadly defined to include those benefits derived from aquatic, forest, agro-ecological and other land-based ecosystems that are often associated with the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, land-management, water, and wildlife/tourism sectors, and the interface between these environmental sectors and human well-being. The articles will include natural-science based (ecological) analysis and social-science based approaches, including social, economic, institutional, cultural, and political dimensions of broadly defined agricultural ecosystem services and their management, particularly in developing regions of the world.

Dr. Robert B. Richardson
Dr. Leo Zulu
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Agricultural ecosystems services
  • Ecosystem services
  • Natural resource-management
  • Food security
  • Agriculture, forestry, fisheries, land-management
  • Policy-making and practice

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Ecological Health Index: A Short Term Monitoring Method for Land Managers to Assess Grazing Lands Ecological Health
Environments 2019, 6(6), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6060067
Received: 7 May 2019 / Revised: 31 May 2019 / Accepted: 3 June 2019 / Published: 10 June 2019
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Abstract
Grazing lands should be monitored to ensure their productivity and the preservation of ecosystem services. The study objective was to investigate the effectiveness of an Ecological Health Index (EHI) for assessing ecosystem ecological health in grazing lands. The EHI was developed by synthesizing [...] Read more.
Grazing lands should be monitored to ensure their productivity and the preservation of ecosystem services. The study objective was to investigate the effectiveness of an Ecological Health Index (EHI) for assessing ecosystem ecological health in grazing lands. The EHI was developed by synthesizing existing vegetation and soil cover indicators. We implemented long-term transects at 44 farms from two ecological regions in Patagonia, the Humid Magellan Steppe (HMS) (n = 24) and Subandean Grasslands (SG) (n = 20), to collect data on established quantifiable vegetative and soil measurements and the EHI. Using known quantifiable measures, the HMS had numerically greater species richness compared to SG. Similarly, the average percentage of total live vegetation was more favorable in HMS. Correlating the EHI with these known quantifiable measures demonstrated positive correlations with species richness, the percentage of total live vegetation and carrying capacity and was negatively correlations with bare ground. These results suggest that EHI could be a useful method to detect the ecological health and productivity in grazing lands. Overall, we conclude that EHI is an effective short-term monitoring approach that ranchers could implement annually to monitor grazing lands and determine the impacts of ranch decision-making on important ecosystem indicators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Ecosystem Services)
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Open AccessArticle
Inclusive Ecosystems? Women’s Participation in the Aquatic Ecosystem of Lake Malawi
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 13 November 2018 / Accepted: 20 November 2018 / Published: 28 December 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1247 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Ecosystem services and their role in alleviating poverty are centered on a set of gendered social relations. The understanding of these relations between men and women in aquatic ecosystems can unveil gender-based opportunities and constraints along the value chains of the ecosystem services. [...] Read more.
Ecosystem services and their role in alleviating poverty are centered on a set of gendered social relations. The understanding of these relations between men and women in aquatic ecosystems can unveil gender-based opportunities and constraints along the value chains of the ecosystem services. A gender discourse perspective on participation of actors of an ecosystem can further facilitate the understanding of the complex and subtle ways in which gender is represented, constructed, and contested. This paper analyses the barriers to the participation of women in the fishing industry. The analysis is based on a study conducted in five fishing villages of Lake Malawi through a structured questionnaire, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and observations. First, it looks at gender and participation from a theoretical perspective to explain how gender manifests itself in participation and interrogates why women have limited benefits from the fishing industry. Second, it highlights the barriers that seem to preclude women from participating, which include institutional embedded norms, financial, socio-cultural, and reproduction roles. In general, women had little influence on the type of fishing sites, markets, and access to financing of their businesses. A gender transformative agenda is therefore required to proactively facilitate changes of some entrenched institutional norms as well as having greater access to financial services and new technologies in order to enhance women’s full participation and equal benefits from ecosystem services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Ecosystem Services)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Community Fish Refuge Management Practice in the Siem Reap Province of Cambodia
Received: 17 September 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 16 December 2018 / Published: 20 December 2018
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Abstract
The Community Fish Refuge (CFR) is a fish conservation measure that is intended to improve the productivity of rice field fisheries and provide safe refuges for fish during the dry season. Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration aims to develop one well-working CFR in every 1200 [...] Read more.
The Community Fish Refuge (CFR) is a fish conservation measure that is intended to improve the productivity of rice field fisheries and provide safe refuges for fish during the dry season. Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration aims to develop one well-working CFR in every 1200 communes by 2019. This study assesses the current situation of the rice field fisheries in the Srey Snam district, Siem Reap province, examines community members’ awareness of fish refuge management; and examines the socioeconomic impacts of the CFR among its beneficiaries. Data collected by interviewing 120 households reveal that 85 percent of respondents pursued rice field fishery as part-time work, catching on average 5.2 kg of fish daily during the ten-month harvest period. Most fish products were used for home consumption. Total household saving and income from fish production significantly increased after community members joined CFRs. Respondents’ expenditures, savings and assets also increased after CFR intervention, indicating improvements in livelihood. Illegal fishing and budgetary constraint to implementing CFR interventions are the pressing problems facing the users. The paper ends by outlining measures that could help strengthen and sustain CFRs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Ecosystem Services)
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Open AccessArticle
Adoption and the Role of Fertilizer Trees and Shrubs as a Climate Smart Agriculture Practice: The Case of Salima District in Malawi
Environments 2018, 5(11), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5110122
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 2 November 2018 / Accepted: 5 November 2018 / Published: 10 November 2018
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Abstract
Fertilizer trees and shrubs can improve degraded soil and avert the impacts of climate change on smallholder farmers in Malawi. This paper analyses the roles of fertilizer trees and shrubs and factors that determine adoption, as well as the intensity of use of [...] Read more.
Fertilizer trees and shrubs can improve degraded soil and avert the impacts of climate change on smallholder farmers in Malawi. This paper analyses the roles of fertilizer trees and shrubs and factors that determine adoption, as well as the intensity of use of fertilizer on trees and shrubs in maize-based farming systems using the Tobit model. A household survey involving 250 smallholder farmers was conducted in Salima district, Malawi. The analysis shows that adopters of fertilizer trees and shrubs considered fertility improvement, shade, source of food and erosion control as main roles of fertilizer trees and shrubs. The Tobit model shows that households with relatively more land are more likely to adopt fertilizer trees and shrubs than those with small land sizes. Adoption is higher among farmers who had been exposed to fertilizer trees and shrubs for longer periods than others had. Land tenure, education and availability of labor also influence the adoption of fertilizer trees and shrubs. Results further show that household and farm characteristics and availability of extension services explain the current adoption rates of tree-fertilizer technologies. Our findings can guide effective targeting of farmers to ensure higher adoption and sustainability of fertilizer-tree and shrub technology for climate-smart agriculture among the smallholder farmers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Ecosystem Services)
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Open AccessArticle
Land Use Planning and Wildlife-Inflicted Crop Damage in Zambia
Environments 2018, 5(10), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5100110
Received: 4 August 2018 / Revised: 21 September 2018 / Accepted: 23 September 2018 / Published: 28 September 2018
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Abstract
Damage to crops from wildlife interference is a common threat to food security among rural communities in or near Game Management Areas (GMAs) in Zambia. This study uses a two-stage model and cross-sectional data from a survey of 2769 households to determine the [...] Read more.
Damage to crops from wildlife interference is a common threat to food security among rural communities in or near Game Management Areas (GMAs) in Zambia. This study uses a two-stage model and cross-sectional data from a survey of 2769 households to determine the impact of land use planning on the probability and extent of wildlife-inflicted crop damage. The results show that crop damage is higher in GMAs as compared to non-GMAs, and that land use planning could be an effective tool to significantly reduce the likelihood of such damage. These findings suggest that there is merit in the current drive to develop and implement land use plans to minimize human-wildlife conflict such as crop damage. This is especially critical as Zambian conservation policies do not explicitly provide compensation for damage caused by wildlife. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Ecosystem Services)
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Open AccessArticle
What Is the Value of Wild Bee Pollination for Wild Blueberries and Cranberries, and Who Values It?
Environments 2018, 5(9), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5090098
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 24 August 2018 / Accepted: 28 August 2018 / Published: 31 August 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2175 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Pollinator conservation efforts and growing interest in wild bee pollination have increased markedly in the last decade, making it increasingly important to have clear and practical estimates of the value of pollinators to agriculture. We used agricultural statistics, socio-economic producer surveys, and agronomic [...] Read more.
Pollinator conservation efforts and growing interest in wild bee pollination have increased markedly in the last decade, making it increasingly important to have clear and practical estimates of the value of pollinators to agriculture. We used agricultural statistics, socio-economic producer surveys, and agronomic field research data to estimate traditional pollination value metrics and create novel approaches to the valuation of the ecosystem services provided by wild pollinators. Using two regionally important United States (USA) crops—Maine wild blueberry and Massachusetts cranberry—as models, we present the perceived values of wild bee pollinators from the perspectives of both consumers and producers. The net income attributable to wild bees was similar for wild blueberry ($613/ha) and cranberry ($689/ha). Marginal profit from incrementally adding more hives per ha was greater from stocking a third/fourth hive for cranberry ($6206/ha) than stocking a ninth/10th hive for wild blueberry ($556/ha), given the greater initial responsiveness of yield, revenue, and profit using rented honey bee hives in cranberry compared with wild blueberry. Both crops’ producers were willing to annually invest only $140–188/ha in wild pollination enhancements on their farms, justifying government financial support. Consumers are willing to pay ≈6.7 times more to support wild bees than producers, which indicates a potential source for market-based subsidies for invertebrate conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Ecosystem Services)
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Open AccessArticle
Coping with and Adapting to Climate Change: A Gender Perspective from Smallholder Farming in Ghana
Environments 2018, 5(8), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5080086
Received: 23 June 2018 / Revised: 21 July 2018 / Accepted: 21 July 2018 / Published: 25 July 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1957 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The negative impacts of climate change on agriculture could erode gains made toward gender equality in Ghana. Much of the literature on gender dimensions of climate change adaptation has focused on assessing differences in coping and adaptation practices of smallholder farmers. Mostly overlooked [...] Read more.
The negative impacts of climate change on agriculture could erode gains made toward gender equality in Ghana. Much of the literature on gender dimensions of climate change adaptation has focused on assessing differences in coping and adaptation practices of smallholder farmers. Mostly overlooked is whether gender influences influenced perception of effectiveness of adaptation practices and preferences for institutional support for future adaptation. Using key informant interviews, household surveys, and focus group discussions, we address these gaps by exploring coping and adaptation measures adopted by heads of farm households to counter climate change impacts on their livelihood activities and household well-being in the Guinea Savanna agroecological zone in Ghana. Additionally, we assessed the preferred institutional adaptation support of heads of farm households in adapting to future projected impacts. We find that female heads of farm households relied mainly on borrowed money from village savings and loans group as a coping measure; male heads of farm households depended primarily on sales of livestock. Varying planting and harvesting dates, crop diversification, and use of improved crop varieties were the major adaptation strategies adopted by farmers. We argue that provision of dams and/or dugouts, postharvest processing facilities, adaptation capacity-building resources, and improved access to markets and credit could enhance the adaptive capacity of male and female heads of farm households to mitigate projected climate change impacts on their livelihood activities and household well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Ecosystem Services)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Potential for Small-Scale Aquaculture in Cambodia
Environments 2018, 5(7), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5070076
Received: 28 May 2018 / Revised: 24 June 2018 / Accepted: 26 June 2018 / Published: 29 June 2018
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Abstract
Fisheries in Cambodia play an important role in supporting household food security and livelihoods throughout the country. Inland fisheries production is largely dependent on numerous ecosystem services, particularly the floodwaters of the Tonle Sap Lake basin, which has been degraded from increased fishing [...] Read more.
Fisheries in Cambodia play an important role in supporting household food security and livelihoods throughout the country. Inland fisheries production is largely dependent on numerous ecosystem services, particularly the floodwaters of the Tonle Sap Lake basin, which has been degraded from increased fishing pressure because of population growth and a rising demand for fish. To address the dual problem of food insecurity and overfishing, an integrated food security and climate change program involved the promotion of small-scale aquaculture through semi-intensive pond management. The objective of this study is to examine perceptions of small-scale aquaculture by participants in this program in order to assess the potential for aquaculture to contribute to household food security and conservation of the Tonle Sap Lake ecosystem. Focus group discussions and a household survey were conducted among current and previous fish farmers. Results demonstrate that most farmers continue to practice small-scale aquaculture as a means to supplement household food availability and income. Numerous barriers to adoption of small-scale aquaculture were identified, including access to water, prices of commercial fish feed, selling price of fish in markets and concerns about profitability. Seasonal water scarcity is the most prominent challenge in promoting aquaculture technologies, so aquaculture development should be expanded in areas where there are abundant supplies of water, or where use of water storage techniques is feasible. Aquaculture technology appears to have the potential to contribute to food security, nutrition and household income and to the conservation of the wild fisheries of the Tonle Sap Lake. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Ecosystem Services)
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