C12 - Collaborative farm-modelling for reconciling socio-economic and ecological functions

This project aims at developing an integrative and collaborative farm modelling approach to identify potential farm designs, which meet farmer’s needs while providing ecological functions under heterogeneous household and site conditions. The approach combines multi-objective (goal) programming with robust portfolio theory and participatory research methods. Building on the EFForTS- OPMX, EFForTS-BEE and Landscape Assessment we will explore how much of environmentally-friendly management options and which degree of land-use diversification, may be indicated to balance the uncertain provision of ecological and economic functions.

Past research undertaken by EFForTS has revealed trade-offs between ecological and socioeconomic functions. Experiments introducing tree islands and reducing fertilizer levels in oil palm plantations suggest these interventions can increase ecological functioning in lowland rainforest transformation systems. But how could these practices be successfully embedded in sustainable farm layouts, which reduce ecological-economic trade-offs while meeting farmers’ needs? Deriving such recommendations for farmers and policy makers is challenging, due to the high heterogeneity identified in EFForTS Phase 2, in terms of ecological functions between and within specific sites or field, but also household conditions, which affect the provisioning of socio-economic functions. In addition, socioeconomic and ecological functions and services may be of varying importance for farmer’s decision making.

This project aims to derive robust recommendations on desirable farm compositions to mitigate trade-offs between socio-economic and ecological functions under heterogeneous site and household conditions. It will further develop an integrative land-use optimization model to select not only suitable land-use options and their ideal mix – with respect to compositional diversity of farms – but also the diversity of selected individual land-use options to account for land-use configuration. The parsimonious farm-modelling approach combines multi-objective (goal) programming with robust portfolio theory. We will consider ecological and socio-economic functions and services via normalized indicator values for each land-use, cover or management option. These land-use options could include oil palm, rubber plantation or jungle rubber, as well as unmanaged forest or shrubland investigated in the Core Plot Design and the Landscape Assessment. Building on the B11 Oil Palm Biodiversity Enrichment Experiment (EFForTS-BEE) and the Oil Palm Management Experiment (EFForTS-OPMX), we will also be able to test different biodiversity and management intensity levels of the oil palm option. Uncertainty in the provision of ecological and socio-economic functions will be considered in the robust solution algorithm through the error of sampling or simulation for each function and land-use option. This approach will allow for a better understanding of how heterogeneity affects ecological-socioeconomic trade-offs at the farm and aggregated landscape level, and which mix of land-use/management options and level of land-use diversification is best suited to reduce these trade-offs. We will also test how selection of different private and public goals, mimicked by different ecological and/or economic functions, affect the selection of land-use types. The research will be embedded into a collaborative modelling approach in close cooperation with C02 Faust and C08 Wollni, and the sustainability assessment (C02 Faust) of land use scenarios with local farmers and political decision-makers. The project is designed to inform the EFForTS-ABM model (B10 Wiegand/Lay) about the selection of promising land-use/management options and the functions most crucial for land-use decisions. The anticipated results will help to select land-use options and farm layouts that have both high potentials to mitigate economic-environmental trade-offs at farm and landscape scale - under a large set of household and site conditions -, but also a high potential for adoption by local farmers.

Trennblatt C12 a
Fig. 1. Foto: Peter Glatzle
Trennblatt C12 b
Fig. 2. Collaborative modelling with local stakeholder: Which degree of land-use diversification (ranging from monocultures, block-mixtures to agroforestry systems) might contribute to mitigating ecological-socioeconomic trade-offs?