Conference Agenda

210R: Mountain futures: Innovative potentials and trade-offs between food security, climate change, and biodiversity conservation in the global highlands?
Wednesday, 24/Apr/2019:
11:15am - 12:45pm

Session Chair: Robert J. Zomer
Session Chair: Jianchu Xu
Location: MB-120
Main Building, room 120, first floor, west wing, 80 (+14) seats
Session Topics:
What do people want from land?

Session Abstract

Although there has been some recognition of the significant environmental and social implications of predicted climate change impacts on mountains and mountain communities across the world, little specific attention has been devoted to identifying, understanding, and further developing innovative and mountain-specific approaches for and by mountain communities. Faced with a rapidly changing biophysical and socio-economic environment, mountain communities urgently require innovative approaches and positive opportunities to meet the challenges of climate change and sustainable development.

There are persuasive reasons for taking a special look at mountains and the challenges they face in the coming decades. Mountains cover almost a quarter of the earth’s surface. Both urban and rural areas depend on mountains for essential ecosystem services such as fresh water, crops and high-value products. Mountain landscapes are storehouses of natural and cultural diversity; they are on the front lines of global change and can provide insights and solutions to global problems. Mountains offer an escape from the uniformity and monocultures of modern life in the form of an alternative model of development: one that draws on the ingenuity and traditional knowledge of mountain peoples.

This means taking proper account of ecological and cultural value; combining ancient wisdom with modern science; building equitable and just governance systems, and respecting the rights and intellectual property of mountain peoples. There is a need to unlock the potential of mountains as pathways to a better future. But doing this requires innovative mechanisms that can co-develop innovative solutions to provide a sustainable future for mountain landscapes and their people.

This session will explore both the unique socio-economic and ecological challenges mountain communities face, and seeks to highlight innovative approaches for facilitating adaptation. New models and mountain-specific solutions, as well as new technologies to benefit mountain farming communities are urgently required to achieve sustainability and prosperity for mountain communities all across the world.

Full talk
ID: 244 / 210R: 1
210R Mountain futures: Innovative potentials and the trade-offs between food security, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity conservation in the global highlands?
Keywords: Climate change, hydrology, environmental stratification, geospatial modeling, mountains, sustainable development, biodiversity conservation

Projected climate change impacts on montane terrestrial ecosystems and the challenges for global mountains

Robert J. Zomer1, Jianchu Xu1,2, MIngching Wang1

1Center for Mountain Ecosystems, Kunming Institute of Botany - Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, People's Republic of; 2World Agroforesty Center (ICRAF) - East and Central Asia Regional Office

Rapidly accelerating climate change in the mountains all across the globe is projected to have major implications for montane species, ecosystems, mountain farming and pastoral systems, and protected areas throughout these regions. A bioclimatic stratification and geospatial modeling approach based on the Global Environmental Stratification (GEnS) and an in-situ water balance model has been used to explore impacts of projected climate change on the hydrology and spatial distribution of bioclimatic conditions on montane ecosystems, with particular focus on the highly populated Asian Highlands, notably along the great arc of the Himalaya, Hindu Kush, Pamir, Tien Shan and Altai-Saiyan Ranges, as well as across the vast, high elevation Tibetan Plateau, with case studies presented from southwestern China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Central Asia. Projected climate change impacts were modeled for the full range of potential emission scenarios for the year 2050, based upon an ensemble of 13 Earth System Models produced by the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project - Phase 5 (CMIP5) of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). Results from the geospatial modeling and analysis show that large spatial shifts in bioclimatic conditions can be expected across all bioclimatic zones and ecoregions. Potential impacts include upward shift in mean elevation of bioclimatic zones, expansion of the lower elevation zones and warmer ecoregions into higher elevations, decreases in area of the highest elevation biomes and ecoregions, and the disappearance of habits with highly specific sets of bioclimatic conditions. Impacts on mountain agroecosystems include upward shifting of agroecological zones, disruption of cropping calendars, decreases in chilling hours, and the increasing abundance of invasive species. High levels of biotic perturbance are indicated for the foreseeable future. The effectiveness of protected area networks in the region is also reviewed in light of climate change. Overall, results indicate a high likelihood of major consequences for biodiversity, ecosystems, ecosystem services, conservation efforts and sustainable development policies for montane regions across Asia, with early onset.

Full talk
ID: 697 / 210R: 2
210R Mountain futures: Innovative potentials and the trade-offs between food security, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity conservation in the global highlands?
Keywords: Biodiversity; Climate Change; Informed Policy- and Decision-Makings; Local Practices; Mountain

Enhancing landscape restoration and ecosystem resilience for meeting food and livelihood demands, lessons from the mountains of ethiopia

Kiros Meles Hadgu

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Ethiopia

Resilient landscapes and biodiversity conservation are important for improving food systems and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia. However, landscapes in Ethiopia are threatened by major challenges including land degradation, loss of biodiversity, climate change and population pressure. These affect ecosystem health and decrease buffering capacities of mountain communities and ecosystems leading to increasing proneness to shocks and resulting to yield variability, crop failure and food insecurity. To address these challenges, a research was conducted in northern Ethiopia to identify key drivers affecting resilience of landscapes and their impacts on (agro) biodiversity, soil fertility, farming practices agricultural productivity and livelihoods. Satellite images were used to analyse land use/land cover (LULC) changes, and their associated impacts. A multi-scale analysis approach was used to analyse the data. Classified satellite images, field measurements and surveys at landscape level indicated that inclusive and community-led restorations significantly (<0.05) enhanced resilience of mountain ecosystem expressed in terms of improved rehabilitation of degraded mountains (by 78%) and reclamation of degraded gullies (by 82%); four fold increase in vegetation cover (e.g., species density increased from 970 to 3310 individual plants ha-1); more honey bee production (from 5 to 75 kg hive-1 year-1); improved year round water availability (e.g., reduced women’s travel distance to fetch water from 5 to 1.5 km); increased feed availability (from 3 to 7 months year-1); more rural employments and better income (from below poverty line to $140 household-1year-1). Farms building on local mountain knowledge and adopting improved practices had significant (<0/05) changes in LULC and had significantly lower overall soil erosion (P < 0.05), improved soil fertility (P< 0.01) and higher crop yields (P<0.05). The results of this research contribute to support designs of informed policy- and decision-makings through providing long-term information, historical trends and insights on the key drivers of degradation and appropriate restoration options. This enhances national and regional level scaling ups of evidenced based, inclusive and community-led landscape restorations for accelerating ecosystem resilience and biodiversity conservation that play critical role in transforming system level food production and community livelihoods in Ethiopia and across a number of countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa.

Flash talk
ID: 835 / 210R: 3
210R Mountain futures: Innovative potentials and the trade-offs between food security, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity conservation in the global highlands?
Keywords: transdisciplinary approach; mountain communities; innovative pathways; sustainability

The role of science in developing innovative pathways for nature and people: A transdisciplinary approach applied in Mount Kenya, East Africa

Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel

Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Portugal

Achieving human well-being for mountain communities based on finite natural resources requires new partnerships between science, policy, civil society, and the private sector. New pathways towards sustainability and innovative strategies are required to tackle the pressing issues of climate change, loss of biodiversity, and land for human development. But what can and should be the role of science in such an endeavour? In this presentation, with the example of Mount Kenya in East Africa, we will present a transdisciplinary approach that brought together researchers, practitioners and local actors in the framework of a new initiative for nature and people. As part of this process, a co-design workshop was held with the aim to build a joint narrative among the participants about transformative pathways for sustainability in Mount Kenya. Thematically, the workshop brought together perspectives on mountain social-ecological systems and their dynamics, on actors and their power relations, and on existing innovations and major transformative trends. The workshop’s objectives were to: 1) identify and select promising transformative interventions that can be tested by the initiative; 2) develop a common understanding on the main socio-economic and environmental issues, knowledge and data needs, and knowledge products that can be jointly developed by initiative’s partners; and 3) co-design a science-society-policy platform that can support the selected transformative interventions. The workshop adopted a participatory and bottom-up approach in order to ensure that the needs, visions, and innovative potentials from local partners, practitioners and direct beneficiaries were fully recognized and harnessed in the design of the initiative.

Full talk
ID: 814 / 210R: 4
210R Mountain futures: Innovative potentials and the trade-offs between food security, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity conservation in the global highlands?
Keywords: Adaptation, Alps, collaboration network, innovation, mountain, pathway, vision.

Assessing collaboration networks to support systemic innovation in mountain areas

Victor Blanco, Tobias Luthe, Adrienne Grêt-Regamey

ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Mountain areas are increasingly affected by diverse drivers of change, such as climate change, migration, evolving local to international policies, and land acquisition by non-resident actors. These create the need for mountain communities to adapt in order to make the best of the coming changes or avoid their negative impacts. Mountain stakeholders can develop adaptation pathways to reach their desired vision of the future, as part of regional planning processes. The development and implementation of effective adaptation pathways requires innovative and adaptive communities. Collaboration networks are central to achieve these. Network structure, and the characteristics of network actors and ties (such as information flows) determine the potential of communities for social learning, innovation and adaptation. As part of the Mountain Pathways project to develop pathways for adaptation to global change in the Swiss and French Alps, visions for the year 2040 were co-created by local and regional stakeholders. At the begin of this participatory process, collaboration networks were mapped and quantified. We find that meeting the vision developed in France will require systemic innovation to accomplish the necessary regime change. In Switzerland, however, innovation that is incremental and cumulative is required to support the persistence of the current regime. Upon analysis of the structure and components of their collaboration networks, we illustrate the innovative capacity of the two mountain communities and discuss it in the context of the needs for innovation identified in the visions. On this basis, we propose adjustments to the collaboration networks in order to facilitate the achievement of visions.

Flash talk
ID: 841 / 210R: 5
210R Mountain futures: Innovative potentials and the trade-offs between food security, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity conservation in the global highlands?
Keywords: Resilience, vulnerability, teleconnections, mountain economy, climate change

Increasing resilience for some, vulnerability for others? Rapid rural development generates resilience paradoxes in Indian Eastern Himalaya

Reinmar Seidler

Univ Massachusetts Boston, United States of America

Concepts of resilience and vulnerability are frequently invoked in research on social-environmental systems undergoing change. How should we define and measure resilience, when rural economies are in flux and local weather patterns changing? Resilience depends significantly on the individual’s placement within particular contexts – but in many regions, the context itself is changing rapidly.

In rapidly-developing mountain regions, the transformation of rural-urban linkages depends on tele-connectivity. Rural road-networks, increasing vehicular transport and cell-phone/internet connectivity are the substrates upon which economic development is built. These connections facilitate the mutual flow of goods/services between urban areas and village hinterlands; enable information-exchange between highlands and lowlands; stimulate the growth of educational and employment bonds across distance; and constitute keys to growth of the tourism industry – itself key to economic development in many mountain areas.

But given rapidly multiplying symptoms of climate change, what are the longer-term implications of tele-connections for mountain economies? Do they represent resilience gains – or a set of new vulnerabilities? Are they both at once, with impacts distributed differentially across communities at household or even individual levels? If so, how should we assess overall societal increases/decreases in vulnerability/resilience? What kinds of development should be promoted? These questions are central to district-level decision-making – the level at which locally-applicable environmental policy is made, and for which coherent scenarios are needed.

Here we present data-sets from a long-term action-research program in Eastern Himalaya. In 2017, a total strike for 3 months cut all communications and transport connections between Darjeeling urban area, its hinterlands, and the plains. The acute dependence of urban neighborhoods on tele-connectivity was strikingly highlighted. New, informal markets for essential items emerged as villagers devised work-around strategies to supply “cut-off” urban neighborhoods, sometimes at below-cost. Paradoxically, the crisis both generated new town-village linkages and simultaneously sharpened the economic dominance of urban markets.

Flash talk
ID: 366 / 210R: 6
210R Mountain futures: Innovative potentials and the trade-offs between food security, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity conservation in the global highlands?
Keywords: ecosystem-based adaptation, traditional knowledge, economic innovation, Nepal, Peru

Using traditional knowledge, participatory approaches, and ecosystem-based adaptation to drive innovation in mountains

Erin Holly Gleeson1, Jorge Recharte1, Katherine Blackwood2

1The Mountain Institute, United States of America; 2International Union for Conservation of Nature

Societal adaptation to the consequences of rising global temperatures will require measures that simultaneously reduce poverty and protect or restore biodiversity and ecosystem services. This is especially true in mountains, where communities and ecosystems are already more vulnerable to natural hazards, over-exploitation, and degradation, and where the consequences of global warming are already magnified. Ecosystem-based approaches that help people adapt to climate change, especially when combined with innovative solutions that provide short- and medium-term economic benefits, are particularly promising in mountain regions, where other approaches are often limited by the steep topography, marginality, inaccessibility, and lack of representation that characterize mountains.

In this talk, we will share some examples of ecosystem-based adaptation combined with economic innovation that are reinvigorating parts of highland Peru and remote communities in Nepal. In both countries, these innovations are grounded in traditional knowledge and made successful by strong local partnerships and participatory approaches. However, we will also discuss the challenges we continue to face in building and maintaining these opportunities, namely stable linkages to international markets and the research basis to scale up implementation.

Full talk
ID: 444 / 210R: 7
114R The deep history of global land use change – needs and potentials for earth system modelling and understanding of socio-ecological systems
Keywords: Pollen-based land-cover, past landscape burning, impacts of changing monsoon, biodiversity changes in its tropical hotspot, Anthropocene

Assessing the resilience of the Western Ghats agroforestry landscapes towards anthropogenic fires and monsoonal variability: Implications for sustaining biodiversity in one of its prime hotspots

Charuta J. Kulkarni1, Shonil A. Bhagwat1,2, Walter Finsinger3, Sandra Nogué4,5, Pallavi Anand6, Kathy J. Willis5

1Department of Geography and OpenSpace Research Centre, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.; 2School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.; 3ISEM, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France.; 4Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.; 5Long-Term Ecology Laboratory, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.; 6School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

The effective management of human-dominated tropical forest landscapes is crucial in the wake of global environmental change affecting biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and the livelihoods of billions. To ensure success of such ecological management, it is essential that both planning as well as implementation is informed by long-term ecological knowledge rooted in robust scientific inquiries. Examples of science-based ecological management are rare largely due to paucity of high-resolution past ecological modelling studies that are capable of producing tangible analogues and policy-relevant information on a multi-decadal timescale. To bridge this gap in the light of India’s National Agroforestry Policy (NAP) and its wider relevance to other tropical countries, we harness the recent past, “the Anthropocene” to provide guidelines for current-future ecological management of human-dominated tropical landscapes. Adopting innovative statistical approaches (e.g. pollen-based REVEALS modelling, rarefaction, and multivariate ordination) well-founded on palaeoecological science, we examine the resilience of Indian agroforestry landscapes in relation to past landscape burning and monsoonal variability, thereby analysing their capacity to sustain biodiversity vital for socio-economic development of forest-dependent communities. To explore the applicability of this scenario to other parts of the tropics, we use the model system, Western Ghats (WG) of India, one of world’s prime biodiversity hotspots that supports the highest human population density through age-old agroforestry systems. The quantitative reconstructions of past landcover and land use at a resolution of 20-50 years allows us to deepen the fundamental knowledge of long-term socio-ecological, typical Anthropocene landscapes while providing a tangible window to deliver state-of-the-art understanding of the efficacy of fires in forest management and its implications for the efficient implementation of NAP. Our work is part of project “EARNEST” that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No. 795557.