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Mountland

 

Mountain regions provide essential ecosystem goods and services (EGS). Global change however endangers the capacity of mountain ecosystems to provide key services. The Mountland project focuses on three case study regions in the Swiss Alps and aims at proposing land-use practices and alternative policy solutions to ensure the provision of EGS under climate and land-use changes.

 

In Mountland an integrative approach is applied, combining methods from economics and the political and natural sciences to analyze ecosystem functioning from a holistic human-environment system perspective.

 

First project phase 2008-2012

Sustainable land-use practices in mountain regions. Integrative analysis of ecosystem dynamics under global change, socio-economic impacts and policy implications.

The ‹ountland project started in 2008 with the goal to establish a research network analyzing the provision of mountain ecosystem goods and services under global change in an integrative framework. The main interdisciplinary results from the first phase of the project were published in three special issues. A Special Feature in Ecology&Society provides a scientific summary and synthesis of the project findings. A Special Issue in the Swiss Forestry Journal (in German) summarizes our findings with respect to forestry and builds an important basis for our dialogue with stakeholders from the forestry sector. The main findings with respect to agriculture were published in a Special Issue of the Agrarforschung (in German and French). In summary, these publications revealed that climate and socio-economic changes are likely to increase the vulnerability of mountain EGS. Our results suggest that i) more integrative approaches, ii) a more network-oriented management and steering of political processes that integrate (local) stakeholders and iii) enhanced capacity building to decrease the identified vulnerability as central elements in the policy process addressing EGS. The first phase of the project provides evidence for a successful implementation of inter- and transdisciplinary research in the context of EGS in mountain areas. As a result, locally adapted land-use practices and alternative policy solutions were developed for both forest and grassland ecosystems.

 

Second project phase 2013-2014

Prioritization for adaption to climate and socio-economic changes - Backcasting tolerable future states to match supply and demand for ecosystem services in mountainous areas.

The primary goal of the second (and ongoing) phase of ‹Mountland› is to provide management and policy options that support society including policymakers and ecosystem managers to make choices in order to promote and improve sustainable development. This project will go beyond existing research by using a backcasting approach which combines envisioned future tolerable states with the current system boundaries required to get to this shared future conditions. The research project will lead to a) a better understanding of current land-use transition processes using an interlinked set of models; b) integrate the spatially explicit supply and demand for ecosystem services including cultural services under consideration of transdisciplinary knowledge; and c) a set of strategies reconciling the long-term goals of a sustainable development of mountainous regions with often rather short-term oriented individual and collective actions.