Science & Technology


Elena Bennett: Feeding the world without destroying the planet

By Elena Bennett (Natural Resource Sciences and McGill School of Environment, McGill)

Agricultural landscapes can provide many different ecosystem services, including food, high quality freshwater, opportunities for recreation, and flood control. Yet we often focus narrowly on the production of food, which can unintentionally undermine provision of other key services.  The idea of managing for ecosystem services compels us to consider more than one service and obliges us to consider the interactions and relationships among ecosystem services on the landscape. Yet we don’t know very much about these interactions. Thus, a key goal for science in the coming decade is to improve our understanding of how multiple services are provided across agricultural landscapes. What affects the relative proportions of services? Can trade-offs be reduced or synergies strengthened? We are working with local communities in the Vallée-du-Richelieu MRC (Municipalité Régionale de Comté), a 750 km2 regional governance body involving 13 towns southeast of Montréal to build models that they can use to objectively quantify the effect of today’s resource and land management decisions on the current and future provision of multiple ecosystem services.

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    December 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm