In order to advance long-term sustainable development of intensive land use systems, against risks arising from multiple aspects of global change, LEGATO plans to quantify the dependence of ecosystem functions (ESF) and the services (ESS) they generate in agricultural systems in South East Asia. The focus is on local as well as regional land use intensity (including the socio-cultural and economic background) and biodiversity, and the potential impacts of future climate and land use change. Following the framework of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), we define supporting services as ESF and deal with selected characteristic elements of the 3 service strands defined by the MEA: a) Provisioning (PS): Nutrient cycling & crop production (including consequences for the hydrosphere); b) Regulating (RS): biocontrol & pollination; c) Cultural Services (CS): cultural identity & aesthetics.
LEGATO will develop valuations of ESS through monetary and non-monetary methods. The most meaningful monetary costs to be calculated are (potential) damage costs (e.g. due to production losses, influences of reduced water quality), management/ repair costs (regulation), and avoidance cost (precautionary measures) as these manifest themselves in real markets. Non-monetary costs are crucial for cultural services.
LEGATO will test and improve already existing indicators for ESF/ESS and their values - building upon but going beyond existing indicators sets like those of the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) and the SEBI (Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators). Beyond the applicability of the existing ones, specific integrative indicators for each of the three strands will be tested for their suitability, e.g., the “Human Appropriation of Net Primary Productivity – HANPP” (PS strand); the diversity of indicator plants (incl. weeds), pollinators, and natural enemies of crop pests (RS); and the diversity of charismatic species of conservation concern such as damsel- or dragonflies (CS). Indicator research will be done on intra-, trans- and superregional scales via cross continental comparisons. The DPSIR scheme popularised by the EEA complemented by a drivers’ institutional hierarchy analysis as developed in the ALARM project will be applied to illustrate the interaction of the economic and socio-cultural factors with geo-biogenic ones in shaping landscapes and ESS provision and recognition.
As core output, LEGATO will develop guidelines for optimising ESF/ESS given the local socio-cultural conditions and their stabilisation under future climate and land use change, which will particularly affect South and Southeast Asia. There is a clear need for crop productivity increases and diversification. LEGATO will analyse the potential of ecological engineering to achieve this, and test its implementation and transferability across regions (a critical question in particular with regard to the diverse socio-cultural factors). The latter is to be achieved through inclusion e.g., of local agricultural agencies and extension services as partners. Implementation will include assessments of ESS risks and opportunities in the light of changes in land use intensity, biodiversity and climate.
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