Integrating Agroecology and Conservation for Sustainable Local Transformation

A special issue of Conservation (ISSN 2673-7159).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2024 | Viewed by 5114

Special Issue Editors

Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária, Colombo 83411-000, Brazil
Interests: conservation and productive restoration in the Araucária forest; agroecology and agroforestry
1. Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5, Canada
2. Department of History, Universidade Estadual de Ponta Grossa, Ponta Grossa 84030-900, Brazil
Interests: food systems; agroecological production; traditional erva-mate production systems; agricultural heritage system

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Against a backdrop of intertwined crises, including poverty, food insecurity, biodiversity loss, pandemics, and climate change, small-scale farming communities around the world, who often bear the brunt of restrictive measures to curb deforestation and ecosystem degradation, are finding ways to resist the lock-ins of the industrialized food system and enact alternatives that foster economic viability, ecological regeneration and conservation, and social justice. While there are many avenues for such efforts to take, one framework that offers significant promise and has been gaining increased traction in recent years is that of agroecology. Although agroecology has a long history, particularly in Latin America and other parts of the Global South, it has become increasingly recognized on a global scale, for example by the FAO (2018, 2019), High Level Panel of Experts (2019), and the Committee on World Food Security (2020). With its emphasis on farmer-led innovation, closed-loop systems and knowledge-intensive (as opposed to input-intensive) practices, and general socio-ecological resilience, it offers opportunities to support the conservation of important agro and forest ecosystems on a local scale. The COVID-19 pandemic and current climate crises of drought and wildfires have highlighted the many weaknesses of our food and forest systems, as well as the particular vulnerabilities of smallholder farming communities. Thus, the relevance of agroecology has only increased. This Special Issue will include a range of case studies from both the Global South and North that consider the importance of integrating agroecological approaches with forest and agrobiodiversity conservation as a means to mitigate future uncertainties related to climate shocks; pandemics; natural disasters; and their disruption to forest, food, and agricultural systems.

Dr. André Eduardo Biscaia Lacerda
Dr. Evelyn Roberta Nimmo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Conservation is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • ecosystem degradation
  • deforestation
  • ecological regeneration and conservation
  • agroecology
  • agroecological approaches
  • forest and agrobiodiversity conservation
  • agro and forest ecosystems
  • socio-ecological resilience
  • smallholder farming
  • food and agricultural systems

Published Papers (5 papers)

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16 pages, 493 KiB  
Article
What Is the Role of Public History and Environmental Oral History in Supporting Conservation through Agroecology?
Conservation 2024, 4(1), 82-97; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation4010006 - 21 Feb 2024
Viewed by 414
Abstract
Indigenous peoples and local communities are key actors in the preservation of important biodiversity resources around the world. However, the ever-encroaching agricultural frontier and expansion of conventional agricultural practices threaten these communities, their autonomy over the land, and the traditional knowledge and practices [...] Read more.
Indigenous peoples and local communities are key actors in the preservation of important biodiversity resources around the world. However, the ever-encroaching agricultural frontier and expansion of conventional agricultural practices threaten these communities, their autonomy over the land, and the traditional knowledge and practices associated with biodiverse ecosystems. Agroecology emerges as an important solution to support the continuation of agrobiodiversity, food security, and environmental conservation, but top-down solutions often do not resonate with the lived realities of traditional, Indigenous, and small-scale farming communities. This paper examines a collaborative research and narrative network developed over the past several years around traditional erva-mate agroforestry production in Southern Paraná, Brazil. It offers an example of how oral environmental history and public history can support conservation practices through agroecology. The key outcomes of this interdisciplinary, multi-dimensional research and engagement were the development of a candidacy for the system to be recognized as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the implementation of a Dynamic Conservation Action Plan to address the threats and challenges farmers and communities are facing. The discussion explores two concepts that were integral to these processes, the creation of narrative networks and a focus on plurivocity. Both approaches ensured that the actions, knowledge, and narratives developed through the GIAHS candidacy were not imposed but agreed upon and generative through narrative and dialogue, remaining true to the realities and lived experiences of community members. Full article
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17 pages, 3207 KiB  
Article
Co-Creating Strategies to Optimize Traditional Silvopastoral Systems through the Management of Native Trees in Caívas in Southern Brazil
Conservation 2024, 4(1), 65-81; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation4010005 - 20 Feb 2024
Viewed by 806
Abstract
The conservation of forest remnants in southern Brazil is closely related to historical land use, for example in systems such as caívas that occur within remnants of the Araucaria Forest and include livestock production and the extraction of yerba mate. Over the last [...] Read more.
The conservation of forest remnants in southern Brazil is closely related to historical land use, for example in systems such as caívas that occur within remnants of the Araucaria Forest and include livestock production and the extraction of yerba mate. Over the last decade, technologies adapted for these systems have been developed that promote a significant increase in animal productivity, without harming forest regeneration or the maintenance of the tree layer. However, the fertilization of pastures proposed in the technology has also promoted greater growth of native trees, with a consequent increase in shade levels. This, in turn, has affected the maintenance of pasture and yerba mate in the understory. Thus, this study sought to develop a methodology to adjust shade levels based on forest management that adheres to the limits permitted by current legislation. The objective was to evaluate the effect of tree management to maintain 50% shade levels on environmental indicators in a caíva that has been implementing pasture improvement technology since 2013. Native tree management occurred in 2020 and 2022 and the results were compared with data from the floristic survey of the area carried out in 2013. The results indicate that although the adoption of forest management to adjust shade levels reduced the density of individuals, it did not affect forest diversity, nor the basal area of the caíva tree layer. As such, it is possible to maintain pasture and yerba mate production in the area. Strategies like this are fundamental so that the forest landscape can continue to offer a source of production while also supporting environmental conservation. Full article
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18 pages, 340 KiB  
Article
Building an Agroecology Knowledge Network for Agrobiodiversity Conservation
Conservation 2023, 3(4), 491-508; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation3040032 - 11 Oct 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1222
Abstract
This paper describes the development of a transdisciplinary knowledge network dedicated to supporting agroecology knowledge exchange and capacity building that is particularly focused on the sustainable use and conservation of agrobiodiversity. The network—Fostering Effective Agroecology for Sustainable Transformation, or FEAST—includes nodes in Brazil, [...] Read more.
This paper describes the development of a transdisciplinary knowledge network dedicated to supporting agroecology knowledge exchange and capacity building that is particularly focused on the sustainable use and conservation of agrobiodiversity. The network—Fostering Effective Agroecology for Sustainable Transformation, or FEAST—includes nodes in Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, and Canada’s Northwest Territories and has been engaged in Participatory Action Research activities since 2015. This paper examines the development of the network over time, including a workshop held in 2019 in and around Curitiba, Brazil, and reflects on the outcomes of knowledge exchange activities. We discuss how the development of the FEAST network has informed participants’ local practice and their sense of belonging to a larger-scale, international movement for agroecology, agrobiodiversity conservation, and food system sustainability. Full article
17 pages, 8120 KiB  
Article
Sustainability of Shade-Grown Erva-Mate Production: A Management Framework for Forest Conservation
Conservation 2023, 3(3), 394-410; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation3030027 - 11 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1024
Abstract
Despite the socioeconomic importance of erva-mate (Ilex paraguariensis) traditional agroforestry production for family agriculture in Southern Brazil, there has been no systematization of forest management best practices aiming at long-term sustainability. Here, I present an analysis of relevant forest characteristics that [...] Read more.
Despite the socioeconomic importance of erva-mate (Ilex paraguariensis) traditional agroforestry production for family agriculture in Southern Brazil, there has been no systematization of forest management best practices aiming at long-term sustainability. Here, I present an analysis of relevant forest characteristics that are combined with restoration and management best practices to maintain not only sustainable traditional erva-mate production but also a healthy forest environment. Additionally, I developed a framework that offers an easy tool to apply a focused analysis of general forest attributes to help determine best practices for forest restoration, species diversification, and overall sustainability and health of agroforestry systems. This study also demonstrates that the integration of knowledge and practices that small-scale farmers and traditional communities have been developing for generations should be leveraged for more inclusive research and extension, especially considering the threats family farming is facing due to the dominant paradigm of conventional, one-size-fits-all agriculture. Full article
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23 pages, 6138 KiB  
Case Report
Review of Community-Based Conservation Initiatives for Protecting a Primary Atlantic Forest Remnant: A Case Study
Conservation 2023, 3(4), 595-617; https://doi.org/10.3390/conservation3040037 - 14 Dec 2023
Viewed by 746
Abstract
Effective forest conservation should go hand in hand with collaboration of the surrounding local communities. Bringing advancement and relief to marginalized communities is pivotal for conservation initiatives, with the objective of cultivating a sustainable ecosystem while protecting indigenous biodiversity. The linchpin for developing [...] Read more.
Effective forest conservation should go hand in hand with collaboration of the surrounding local communities. Bringing advancement and relief to marginalized communities is pivotal for conservation initiatives, with the objective of cultivating a sustainable ecosystem while protecting indigenous biodiversity. The linchpin for developing successful partnerships begins with fostering a shared understanding of the intricate relationship between humanity and the natural environment. This awareness can be nurtured by interactive education and tangible outcomes that illuminate the profound long-term benefits of conscientious environmental stewardship. Therefore, an emphasis on community-driven conservation and environmental education becomes imperative, serving as a conduit for disseminating crucial information, fostering practical knowledge, and nurturing the attitudes and skills essential in the quest for environmental protection and sustainable development. Education, in this context, operates as a reciprocal process, demanding that educators glean insights from the local populace to effectively tailor strategies that elevate and empower them toward sustainable advancement. This dynamic interaction is where capacity development (CD) becomes indispensable. This paper delves into the unfolding of a series of conservation endeavors, initially driven by Anita Studer’s commitment to preserving a fragment of the primary Atlantic Forest in northeastern Brazil. Evolving into a four-decade educational journey, the actions taken showcase enduring ripple effects across 14 states in Brazil, presenting a comprehensive survey of applied techniques in this unique context. The resources required to achieve collective conservation goals witness a continual upswing, a trend expounded in this paper. Hence, we have chronicled the history, methodology, and projects that transpired in response to the ever-evolving community needs. We will also look at the results and discuss the advancement that ensues following the CBD targets and goals presented at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference. Full article
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