Can enhancing diversity help scale up agriculture’s benefits to people and the environment?
Zia Mehrabi, Research Associate, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and Claire Kremen, Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and Zoology.
NSF Socio-Environmental Synthesis Centre (SESYNC)
About the Project
Diversity matters. Diversity in colour, gender, culture, and ideas, are what make our world interesting and beautiful. In recent years diversity in our agricultural systems has been rapidly changing. Two existing SESYNC projects aim to understand the political drivers of this change, and its impacts on human nutrition. This project aims to complement, and work with, these existing projects by laying the groundwork for operationalizing a monitoring network for assessing the benefits and costs of agricultural diversification with respect to the Food-Energy-Water nexus.
This project will analyze and synthesize data from our network’s existing empirical projects in North America, South America and Africa. Each of these projects works with multiple farms arrayed across local and landscape-scale gradients of diversification. This project will couple these analyses with a coordinated mapping effort to synthesize large-scale data sets and classifications of agricultural diversity patterns. It will then integrate these data to (1) undertake trade-off and multifunctionality analysis, (2) identify key gaps in currently linking social and environmental outcomes in survey instruments, and (3) devise a common protocol for operationalizing assessments of agricultural landscape diversity and outcomes over time. Rich localized datasets, coupled with our growing collaborative global network offer an opportunity for new scientific insights into assessing the costs and benefits of agricultural diversification at large spatial scales. The research team’s commitment to working with farmers in the fields across geographic and cultural contexts offer a direct means to translate insights into action.