Theory of responses in forests & shrubland

Authors: Agostino Ferrara, Guiseppe Mancino, Luca Salvati, Michiel Curfs, Anton Imeson

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The theoretical framework developed on responses to LEDD highlights the interconnected issues related to land and ecosystem degradation and desertification (LEDD) in forests/shrubland. The framework is based on the forests/shrubland environmental functions and main LEDD issues affecting those functions at different scales and areas (study sites). Preliminary investigations in individual LEDDRA case study areas have highlighted that in each area a combination of different factors are influencing LEDD in forests/shrubland and that, as a result, detailed analysis of the different, but often interlinked, drivers of LEDD is necessary.

The analysis of forests/shrubland characteristics and functions also highlighted the main pressures affecting these ecosystems and the associated LEDD issues. The main issues for forest/shrublands at worldwide and study site level can be summarized as: forest productivity decline, loss of biodiversity, forest fragmentation, soil erosion/deterioration, water stress, desertification and socio-economic issues. LEDD issues are generally driven by interdependent environmental, economic and social processes, operating at multiple scales, singly and in combination with each other.

To better understand the pressures on forest ecosystems, the main drivers responsible for LEDD issues were identified. Drivers of LEDD issues can be divided into direct and indirect. Direct drivers are those human activities that lead to environmental change by influencing ecosystem processes. Indirect drivers of change operate more diffusely, altering direct drivers that cause environmental changes. These drivers can be identified as the deeper demographic, economic, social, political and cultural forces that lead people to undertake activities that cause environmental change. The main drivers analysed are: agriculture, forest fires, forestry, wood extraction and energy demand, extractive activities (mining), tourism, urbanization, deforestation, climate change and policies.

The analysis of land and ecosystem degradation and desertification (LEDD) and of the responses to LEDD is based on the Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) paradigm (Berkes and Folke 1998). A key approach used in this context is based on understanding how the complex interactions between the three ‘capitals’ (economic, social and environmental/natural) influence and shape human responses to degradation and desertification in forest and shrublands in highly varying cultural settings.

This theory of responses developed by WP4 will provide the basis for in-depth analysis of degradation and desertification processes and responses in the various LEDDRA forests and shrubland case study areas.


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2014-11-28 10:49:22