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Local arrangements for agricultural ecosystem services

Posted on | February 8, 2015 | Comments Off

WG15 – Local arrangements for agricultural ecosystem services: connecting urban populations to their peri-urban landscapes through the ecosystem services of agriculture

Growing and sprawling cities, peri-urbanisation, as well as urban shrinkage, impact significantly on the landscapes fringing our cities and result in changing socio-economic demographics and changing relationships between traditional farmers and the incoming non-farming community. These fringe landscapes become increasingly fragmented by residential and industrial developments within what essentially becomes a transition zone with economic, social and cultural ties back to the city. At the same time, city dwellers become increasingly dependent on the ecosystem services of their peri-urban and rural hinterlands as sources of clean air and drinking water, and space for leisure and experiencing nature. The delivery of such services is threatened by urbanization, land abandonment, climate change and intensification of agriculture.

This working group is interested in the public/ common pool part of rural and peri-urban ecosystem services in the light of changing urban-rural relations. Topics such as food and fibres are dealt with in other working groups: we focus on services that are harder to buy and sell, such as biodiversity, landscape amenity, landscape functioning, natural pest reduction, pollination, soil protection, erosion control, water quality, water resources and cultural identity, and especially the role of agriculture in their supply.

Because of mechanisms of market failure for such ecosystem services from agriculture, arrangements have been developed for public or collective payments. Examples are the Agri-Environment Schemes (AES) that are part of the Common Agricultural Policy in Europe, and Payment for Ecosystem Services schemes (PES). These schemes are mostly financed from public funds and developed and managed at national or provincial levels. This working group welcomes contributions about national AES or PES, but favours presentations about local and regional initiatives that express urban-rural relations. Such local and regional initiatives may have developed their own AES or PES, or they may have developed arrangements with the aid of national schemes.

In addition, contributions are welcomed that describe alternative arrangements – other than payment – that ensure delivery of ecosystem services from agriculture. In general, we are looking for forms of landscape governance, collective action, collaborative landscape design and joint management, that result in effective delivery of agricultural ecosystem services in urban and peri-urban regions. We especially welcome examples from developing countries, such as peri-urban agroforestry initiatives.

During the working group sessions, we want to share results, thoughts and insights related to the following questions:
• What are the relationships between ecosystem services from peri-urban agriculture with urbanization, food security and climate change?
• How is the delivery of public good and common pool types of peri-urban agricultural ecosystem services organized and financed?
• What is the meaning of ecosystem services from peri-urban agriculture in urban-rural relations, and how does this lead to innovative arrangements?
• How are ecosystem services linked to other farm diversification activities such as rural tourism and alternative food networks?

Depending on the quality and innovativeness of the contributions, we may consider compiling a special issue or a book.


Judith Westerink, Alterra Wageningen UR, The Netherlands

Darryl Low Choy, Australia, Griffith University, Australia

John Tabuti, Makarere University, Uganda


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