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

Nicolas Dendoncker, Department of Geography, Institute Transitions, University of Namur
Fanny Boeraeve, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Unity Biodiversity and Landscapes, University of Liege
Emilie Crouzat, Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, CNRS, Université Grenoble Alpes
Marc Dufrêne, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, TERRA research unit, Biodiversity and Landscape team, University of Liege
Ariane König, Research Unit on Education, Cognition, Culture and Society, University of Luxembourg
Cecile Barnaud, DYNAFOR, Université de Toulouse, INPT, INRA, Toulouse, France


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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.

Key words

agrocological transition; integrated ecosystem services valuation; transdisciplinarity

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087