Authors:  
  • Joan Marull (Institut d’Estudis Regionals i Metropolitans de Barcelona)
  • Olga Delgadillo (Pontificia Universidad Javierana, Cali)
  • Claudio Cattaneo (Institut d’Estudis Regionals i Metropolitans de Barcelona)
  • María José La Rota (Pontificia Universidad Javierana, Cali)
  • Fridolin Krausmann (Institute of Social Ecology, Vienna)

Year: 2017

Agroecosystems are facing a global challenge amidst a socioecological transition that places them in a dilemma between increasing land-use intensity to meet the growing demand of food, feed, fibres and fuels, while avoiding the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. We applied an intermediate disturbance-complexity approach to the land-use changes of a Latin American biocultural landscape (Cauca river valley, Colombia, 1943–2010), which accounts for the joint behaviour of human appropriation of photosynthetic capacity used as a measure of disturbance, and a selection of land metrics that account for landscape ecological functionality. We also delved deeper into local land-use changes in order to identify the main socioeconomic drivers and ruling agencies at stake. The results show that traditional organic mixed-farming tended to disappear as a result of sugarcane intensification. The analysis confirms the intermediate disturbance-complexity hypothesis by showing a nonlinear relationship, where the highest level of landscape complexity (heterogeneity–connectivity) is attained when disturbance peaks at 50–60%. The study proves the usefulness of transferring the concept of intermediate disturbance to biocultural landscapes and suggests that conservation of heterogeneous and well-connected mixed-farming, with a positive interplay between intermediate level of disturbances and land-use complexity endowed with a rich intercultural heritage, will preserve a wildlife-friendly agro-ecological matrix likely to house high biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Marull, J., Delgadillo, O., Cattaneo, C., La Rota, M.J., & Krausmann, F. (2017). Socioecological transición in the Cauca river valley, Colombia (1943-2010): towards an energy-landscape integrated analysis. Regional Environmental Change, On line: 10 March 2017, 1-15. doi: 10.1007/s10113-017-1128-2