The Future Earth approach and its
importance for understanding land use
change in Africa
Berlin, 19 March 2014
Flash talk ...
Future Earth and its approach
• A global platform for international research collaboration on
global environmental change ...
Meets African land use dynamics
• Complex and multi-scale, as global and regional change
intersects with local systems and...
Exploring African Dark Earths (AfDE)
Amazonia: Rethinking of pre-Columbian land use dynamics through history,
archaeology,...
Indigenous African soil enrichment as climate-smart
sustainable agriculture alternative
FOSED – sustainable upland farming...
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The Future Earth approach and its importance for understanding land use change in Africa - Melissa Leach

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Presentation by Melissa Leach, Vice-Chair of the Future Earth Science Committee and incoming Director of the Institute for Development Studies, UK, given at the 2nd Global Land Project Open Science Meeting in March 2014. The presentation considers the importance of integrating local knowledge about land management, the value of integrated science in challenging misleading policy myths and crisis narratives about one-way land degradation, and the importance of building sustainable cooperation and capacity in African settings. www.futureearth.info

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The Future Earth approach and its importance for understanding land use change in Africa - Melissa Leach

  1. 1. The Future Earth approach and its importance for understanding land use change in Africa Berlin, 19 March 2014 Flash talk session, Global Land Project conference
  2. 2. Future Earth and its approach • A global platform for international research collaboration on global environmental change and sustainable development • Provides integrated research on major global change challenges and transformations to sustainability • Strengthens partnerships between researchers, funders and users of research through co-design of research • Is solutions-oriented, aiming to generate knowledge that contributed to new more sustainable ways of doing things Objective: To provide the knowledge required for societies in the world to face risks posed by global environmental change and to seize opportunities in a transition to global sustainability
  3. 3. Meets African land use dynamics • Complex and multi-scale, as global and regional change intersects with local systems and practices • Diverse and non-linear, as bio-physical and anthropogenic processes interact to produce patterns of both enrichment and degradation • Represented and valued in multiple ways by different stakeholders : Beyond degradation narratives? Sustainability of what for whom? Whose knowledge counts? Needs research that integrates the knowledges and perspectives of diverse stakeholders – including local land users To build a richer picture through respectful deliberation and dialogue What can we learn from existing activities – within and beyond current GLP/GEC communities?
  4. 4. Exploring African Dark Earths (AfDE) Amazonia: Rethinking of pre-Columbian land use dynamics through history, archaeology, demography, soil science – significance of carbon-rich, fertile Anthropogenic Dark Earths (Terra Preta) Africa: Powerful orthodoxies: poor soils, land use only degrades (without external inputs) 1990s anthropology/ecology/farmers’ knowledge: hypothesis that Terra Preta analogues currently forming through local land use practice a) b) Integrated research soil science, botany, anthropology, history, archaeology (2009 – 13, ESRC) Universities of Cornell, Sussex, Legon Ghana, Njala Sierra Leone; Monrovia Liberia; Kankan Guinea Co-conducted with development NGOs (eg. FOSED, Sierra Leone)
  5. 5. Indigenous African soil enrichment as climate-smart sustainable agriculture alternative FOSED – sustainable upland farming in Sierra Leone EU BeBi project – locally-appropriate biochar developments Ethiopia – indigenous fertilizers Liberia Ghana Totalorganiccarboncontent(Mgha -1 ) 0 100 200 300 400 500 AfDE AS ** ** ** ** -Formed through everyday waste deposits and cultural practices – cooking, agri-processing -Associated with old settlements and forming rings around villages and farm camps - High concentrations of carbon and other nutrients - Valued by farmers for horticulture, agroforestry, cacao, tree nurseries

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