How can integrated valuation of ecosystem services help understanding and steering agroecological transitions?

Nicolas Dendoncker, Fanny Boeraeve, Emilie Crouzat, Marc Dufrêne, Ariane König and Cecile Barnaud, Ecology and Society 23(1):12. , 2018

 

Abstract

Agroecology has been proposed as a promising concept to foster the resilience and sustainability of agroecosystems and rural territories. Agroecological practices are based on optimizing ecosystem services (ES) at the landscape, farm, and parcel scales. Recent progress in research on designing agroecological transitions highlights the necessity for coconstructed processes that draw on various sources of knowledge based on shared concepts. But despite the sense of urgency linked to agroecological transitions, feedbacks from real-world implementation remain patchy. The ability of integrated and participatory ES assessments to support this transition remains largely underexplored, although their potential to enhance learning processes and to build a shared territorial perspective is widely recognized. The overarching question that will be asked in this paper is thus: what is the potential of the ES framework to support the understanding and steering of agroecological transitions? We argue that conducting collaborative and integrated assessments of ES bundles can (i) increase our understanding of the ecological and social drivers that support a transition toward agroecological systems, and (ii) help design agroecological systems based on ES delivery and effectively accompany transition management based on shared knowledge, codesigned future objectives, and actual on-the-ground implementation. In this paper, we discuss this question and propose a four-step integrated ES assessment framework specifically targeted at understanding and steering agricultural transitions that is generic enough to be applied in different contexts.
 

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