R. Kautsky/Azote

Photo: R. Kautsky/Azote


This theme looks at freshwater, food and ecosystem services in dynamic social-ecological landscapes

Water is the bloodstream of the biosphere that makes agricultural activities possible. Agricultural land use now covers large parts of the terrestrial planetary surface. While producing food for a growing world population, it also pushes against many of the planetary boundaries and thus impairing social-ecological resilience.

This theme works on a range of scales, from local landscapes to analysis of global freshwater and agricultural changes, and cross-scale teleconnections. It focuses particularly on operationalising resilience in relation to the water-food-poverty nexus in semi-arid to dry sub-humid parts of the world. Theme members have substantial fieldwork in e.g. the West African Sahel, India, Tanzania and South Africa.

The theme also looks at relationships among multiple ecosystem services and how these can generate synergies or trade-offs between e.g. food production, carbon sequestration, and water availability.

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Staff details



Land cover transition in northern Tanzania

Ouedraogo, I., J. Barron, S.D. Tumbo, F.C. Kahimba

2015 - Journal / article

Land conversion in sub-Saharan Africa has profound biophysical, ecological, political and social consequences for human well-being and ecosystem services. Understanding the process of land cover changes and transitions is essential for good ecosystem management policy that would lead to improved agricultural production, human well-being and ecosystems health. This study aimed to assess land cover transitions in a typical semi-arid degraded agro-ecosystems environment within the Pangani river basin in northern Tanzania. Three Landsat images spanning over 30 years were used to detect random and systematic patterns of land cover transition in a landscape dominated by crop and livestock farming. Results revealed that current land cover transition is driven by a systematic process of change dominated by the following: (i) transition from degraded land to sparse bushland (10·8%); (ii) conversion from sparse bushland to dense bushland in lowland areas (6·0%); (iii) conversion from bushland to forest (4·8%); and (iv) conversion from dense bushland to cropland in the highlands (4·5%). Agricultural lands under water harvesting technology adoption show a high degree of persistence (60–80%) between time slices. This suggests that there is a trend in land-use change towards vegetation improvement in the catchment with a continuous increase in the adoption of water harvesting technologies for crop and livestock farming. This can be interpreted as a sign of agricultural intensification and vegetation regrowth in the catchment. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


The re-greening of Sahel

The West African Sahel is as a region of particular interest in the context of environment and development. This project looks at how  climatic variability and why change happens in some regions while not in others. Read more here

Social-ecological systems (SES), are characterized by multi-scale
interactions among actors and ecosystems. SES-Link investigates these linkages and how they affect resilience and governance. Read more here

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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