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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Mustering the power of ecosystems for climate change adaptation Seminar

25 January 2017
Building 44, Lecture Theatre B

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Nathaniel O'Grady at N.O' .

Event details

Mountain livestock socio-ecosystems may be considered as critically vulnerable due to their biophysical and socio-economic marginality, or highly resilient to climate change due to their long history of climate variability. Future pathways towards adaptation or maladaptation to climate change and socio-economic uncertainty will depend on the ability of mountain societies to mobilize climate adaptation services – i.e. the properties of ecosystems enabling the resilience of current ES, the emergence of novel ES, or their transformation to novel ecosystems. In the southern French Alps, livelihoods and the maintenance of a biodiverse, multifunctional landscapes strongly depend on the tight interactions between farming and tourism. Local and regional stakeholders share a dominant vision for a future of sustainable local development, while the cessation of agriculture and a trajectory of rewilding is rejected by most. For the desired vision to be reached requires adaptation services including the resilience of fodder production supported by dominant plant traits and functional diversity within grassland types, increased soil carbon sequestration or the ability for functionally overlapping grassland types to transform in response to climate and management change. However, for these adaptation services to be expressed and support actual adaptation requires identifying social facilitating factors and barriers. Tipping points towards the maladaptive pathway may occur with successions of dry summers and snow-poor years, but are most likely to be triggered by changes in social values of the larger society that supports livelihoods through markets for mountain products and flexible subsidies, declining physical and internet connectivity, lack of technical innovation and uptake or local conflict. In addition, close analysis of the ‘maladaptive’ pathway reveals some potential larger-scale benefits of carbon sequestration, water purification or conservation of iconic wildlife, which may be considered for regional-scale trade-offs and land planning.

Speaker information

Sandra Lavorel, University of Grenoble. Senior Research Scientist

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