Flagship 4: Landscape dynamics, productivity and resilience

Landscape mosaics, biodiversity and ecosystem services

Farmers sun-dry cacao beans before selling them to village-level traders. Photo by Y.

Agricultural intensification has increasingly led to a loss of non-cultivated habitats and simplification of the landscape, and the elimination of important agro-ecological infrastructures leading to biodiversity loss, which in turn reduces the ecosystem services on which agriculture depends.

This cluster seeks to understand complex relations between ecosystem services as affected by tree cover loss or gain, and human wellbeing. Analyzing these interactions will provide a basis to examine and provide information on their effects on biodiversity, water quantity, quality and regularity flow. Tree cover changes also have a direct impact on climate. As such, this work interacts with FTA’s work on climate change and value chains, as well as with WLE. This knowledge and evidence will be used to mobilize action, as well as inform the trade-offs and synergies required for sustainable use of ecosystem services in meeting optimal human and development needs.

Well-meaning interventions on restoration are often faced with challenges of sustainability and scaling. This largely stems from a lack of alignment with local realities and possibilities. Work in this cluster explores whether and to what extent ‘restoration’ is feasible, including ways climate change adaptation can be built into traditional ‘steady-state’ or seemingly permanent restoration concepts.

FTA analyzes the consequences of landscape changes with a focus on multiple pathways of anthropogenic influence as identified in the previous cluster. Questions of ‘so what’ and ‘who cares’ are addressed here with respect to the quantity and quality of various ecosystem services. Another focus is the trade-offs and synergies between services (provisioning, regulatory, aesthetic and cultural) under multiple conditions.

Tree cover changes have a direct impact on climate, while the various interactions in the landscape inform efforts on value addition. As such, this work interacts with FTA’s work on climate change and value chains, as well as with WLE.

Examples of related research activities include:
Assessment of effects of tree cover change on rainfall patterns and variability at regional and continental scales, combining global circulation models with qualified tree cover data, quantified water balance data and dendrochronological evidence;
Development and application of tools for inclusion of local knowledge and gender perspectives in landscape restoration;
Synthesis of options for achieving the Aichi targets of biodiversity conservation through managed transition zones around protected areas, landscape connectivity and ecological corridors and development zoning, utilizing the full spectrum of forest, tree and agroforestry land-use systems;
Valuation studies that relate human and social capital benefits across scales to changes in forest and tree cover as indicators of ecosystem services in local contexts, as contributions to national and international debate — including the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES);
Assessment of potential contributions of different oil palm diversification (in Brazil) and forest rehabilitation (in Vietnam/Indonesia) for landscape multi-functionality.

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