Agroecosystems and Sustainable Landscapes

Coupling biophysical modeling results and local farmer preferences to optimize land use in Ethiopia

As Ethiopia approaches 105 million people, the growing demand for food is expanding agriculture into marginal, forest, and natural conservation areas. Human-induced activities include population pressure, agricultural expansion, logging, and development, which have been challenging development and conservation efforts. As cultivation and grazing expand into peripheral and conservation areas, land degradation in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, and nutrient mining as well as conflict between land uses and users accelerate the vulnerability of local farmers to climate change. Despite the environmental, social, and economic benefits of biodiversity and natural ecosystem conservation, the reality is that views that strictly exclude the human element are no longer an option. It is therefore essential to understand what combinations of uses and which management options can provide maximum benefits for both social and environmental well-being. Hence the big question remains: “Is there a win-win solution to the increasing tension between environmental conservation efforts and the quest for securing livelihood?”

The wild relatives of major vegetables, needed for climate resilience, are in danger

The wild relatives of chile peppers, pumpkins, carrots, and lettuce join a growing list of poorly conserved plant species. These ancient plants have genes that may help our food withstand the harsh climate of our future. If they don’t go extinct first

Growing up in the wild makes plants tough. Wild plants evolve to survive the whims of nature and thrive in difficult conditions, including extreme climate conditions, poor soils, and pests and diseases. Their better-known descendants – the domesticated plants that are critical to a healthy diet – are often not nearly as hardy. The genes that make crop wild relatives robust have the potential to make their cultivated cousins – our food plants – better prepared for a harsh climate future. But a series of new research papers show these critical plants are imperiled.

Brainstorming biodiversity monitoring

The outcomes will nurture new CIAT collaborations in Brazil and help us jointly build a biodiversity monitoring approach that can meet both CIAT’s and USAID’s objectives. Furthermore, the approach will be useful for other institutions specialized in biodiversity monitoring, as well as for the private sector as a way to evaluate the performance of their activities in the Amazon region. In fact, such a tool can benefit all sectors of society engaged in the difficult task of balancing the trade-offs between development and environmental conservation.

Simplyfying soil data management in sub-Saharan Africa

The idea of visualizing soil data at a glance electronically is exciting to many actors in agriculture and land-use planning. Previously, soil characterization required traveling to the field to collect soil samples and sending them to the lab for analysis. Digital maps, however, save the time (travel, carry soils samples to the lab and wait for results) before making crucial site-specific decisions.

Marcela Quintero: Success at Work is a Matter of Balance

Marcela Quintero is one of the most prestigious researchers on environmental and agricultural issues at CIAT. She began her work as a member of a small team that started thinking how to internalize the environmental externalities in water basins. The work on Payment for Environmental Services stemmed from there, a pretty “odd” topic for the Center 18 years ago.

Marcela Quintero

Marcela Quintero

Director, Agroecosystems and Sustainable Landscapes (ASL) Research Area

M.quintero@cgiar.org
This CIAT Blog was launched in January 2016. For articles related to soils prior to this date, visit our former blog.
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