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Agricultural ecosystems produce food, fiber, and nonmarketed ecosystem services (ES). Agriculture also typically involves high negative external costs associated with, for example, fossil fuel use. We estimated, via field-scale ecological monitoring and economic value-transfer methods, the market and nonmarket ES value of a combined food and energy (CFE) agro-ecosystem that simultaneously produces food, fodder, and bioenergy. Such novel CFE agro-ecosystems can provide a significantly increased net crop, energy, and nonmarketed ES compared with conventional agriculture, and require markedly less fossil-based inputs. Extrapolated to the European scale, the value of nonmarket ES from the CFE system exceeds current European farm subsidy payments. Such integrated food and bioenergy systems can thus provide environmental value for money for European Union farming and nonfarming communities.
The Canadian horticultural peat industry generates carbon emissions through various methods of peat extraction, processing, and land-use changes. This study provides a carbon emissions analysis comparing the traditional vacuum harvest (VH) and block-cut (BC) extraction techniques to a new acrotelm transplant (AT) method that restores natural peatland function by preserving and replacing the surface layer vegetation as part of the extraction process. The relative global warming potential for each extraction method was determined by estimating carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane exchange for each phase of peat extraction, including emissions from land-use change and machinery fuel consumption. Preliminary findings, based on 1 y of measurements, indicate that the AT technique has the lowest annual carbon emissions compared to the VH and BC methods. Projected total carbon emissions from a 75-ha peatland after 50 y of extraction using the AT technique produced a sink of approximately 3300 t CO2 equivalents (CO2-e). This represents a marked reduction in total carbon emissions estimated for the VH (19 000 t CO2-e) and BC (29 000 t CO2-e) extraction techniques. This analysis suggests that the AT method reestablishes peat accumulation and peatland carbon storage function more effectively than the VH and BC methods, which are associated with delayed restoration efforts. Consequently, the AT technique has the potential to greatly reduce the carbon footprint of the Canadian horticultural peat industry.
This report presents the current dynamics of the natural environment and landscape in a part of the mountainous southeastern Spitsbergen coast on the Barents Sea in 1900–2005. Its current state substantially varies from what is shown on recently published topographic maps actual for 1936. The physico-geographical mapping and GPS survey were the basic field methods of recognizing the area, supplemented by remote sensing. Each landscape component, except for the Pre-Quaternary bedrock, has been changed primarily as a direct or indirect result of the current warming. The most dramatic landscape transformation has been connected with the formation of a fjord, the abandoning of the lower parts of valleys by tidewater glaciers, and the alteration of the coastline. This transformation's pace has been increasing visibly over the last few decades. The landscape became more diversified. There is a positive feedback in the process of life expansion in the study area: the processes of animal colonization and plant succession stimulate each other.
The goals for water-quality and ecosystem integrity are often defined relative to “natural” reference conditions in many water-management systems, including the European Union Water Framework Directive. This paper examines the difficulties created for water management by using “natural” as the goal. These difficulties are articulated from different perspectives in an informal (fictional) conversation that takes place after a workshop on reference conditions in water-resources management. The difficulties include defining the natural state and modeling how a system might be progressed toward the natural, as well as the feasibility and desirability of restoring a natural state. The paper also considers the appropriateness for developing countries to adopt the use of natural as the goal for water management. We conclude that failure to critically examine the complexities of having “natural” as the goal will compromise the ability to manage the issues that arise in real basins by not making the ambiguities associated with this “natural” goal explicit. This is unfortunate both for the western world that has embraced this model of “natural as the goal” and for the developing world in so far as they are encouraged to adopt this model.
Information on the effects of global climate change on trends in global fisheries biomass yields has been limited in spatial and temporal scale. Results are presented of a global study of the impact of sea surface temperature (SST) changes over the last 25 years on the fisheries yields of 63 large marine ecosystems (LMEs) that annually produce 80% of the world's marine fisheries catches. Warming trends were observed in 61 LMEs around the globe. In 18 of the LMEs, rates of SST warming were two to four times faster during the past 25 years than the globally averaged rates of SST warming reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Effects of warming on fisheries biomass yields were greatest in the fast-warming northern Northeast Atlantic LMEs, where increasing trends in fisheries biomass yields were related to zooplankton biomass increases. In contrast, fisheries biomass yields of LMEs in the fast-warming, more southerly reaches of the Northeast Atlantic were declining in response to decreases in zooplankton abundance. The LMEs around the margins of the Indian Ocean, where SSTs were among the world's slowest warming, revealed a consistent pattern of fisheries biomass increases during the past 25 years, driven principally by human need for food security from fisheries resources. As a precautionary approach toward more sustainable fisheries utilization, management measures to limit the total allowable catch through a cap-and-sustain approach are suggested for the developing nations recently fishing heavily on resources of the Agulhas Current, Somali Current, Arabian Sea, and Bay of Bengal LMEs.
This paper puts forward a model for managing eutrophication that integrates the salient ecological and economic characteristics of a coastal area suffering from severe nutrient enrichment. The model links the development of phosphorus concentration over time to nutrient emissions from agriculture and habitation. It accounts for differences in agricultural and municipal abatement options and their costs, as well as the need to undertake irreversible investments to set up wastewater treatment facilities. Furthermore, it considers sediment release of phosphorus as a function of annual nutrient loads. The model is parameterized for a 30-km-wide area off the Finnish coast of the Gulf of Finland. The socially optimal policy, which minimizes the sum of monetary damage caused by eutrophication and the costs of nutrient abatement over time, is determined using a dynamic programming approach. The results suggest that considerable investments are warranted to bring wastewater treatment facilities up to date. Continued efforts to reduce agricultural nutrient loading are nevertheless also called for. The analysis provided is a first step toward an integrated analysis of eutrophication that accounts for complexities inherent in the problem, such as sediment release of phosphorus and irreversible investments in abatement technology. The results are sensitive in particular to ecological assumptions and parameterization, and further research is needed in these areas.
Despite a growing body of evidence demonstrating the importance of cities as sources of many local, regional, and global impacts on the atmosphere, ecosystems, and human populations, most theories on the relationship between society and the environment have focused on the global or national level. A variety of theories exist on human–environment interactions; for example, ecological modernization, urban transitions, and human ecology. However, with the exception of urban transitions, these theories have been mainly concerned with nation states and have ignored the subnational and local (city) levels. This article aims at filling this gap by employing ordinary least squares regression to examine these theories at the city level using the STIRPAT formula. It finds that with the exception of population (which shows an unstable relationship with the impacts indicators applied in the analysis) a remarkable level of variation exists in the importance of drivers across the three exercises. This led us to conclude that urban atmospheric pollutants result from diverse activities (e.g., transportation, industrial), are formed through different processes (vehicle combustion, biomass burning), have a residence time ranging from hours to years, and are the outcome of diverse sets of societal and environmental drivers.