RuralFutures - Strategies towards multifunctional, biodiverse and sustainable productive landscapes in silvi- and agricultural modified grasslands in Uruguay

South American native grasslands are heavily used socio-ecological systems and currently subjected to expanding land use changes by afforestation and by agroindustrial soyabean cultivation for the globalized market. Transnational forest industry and local small-scale forestry are planting mainly non-native species (i.e. Eucalyptus, Pinus). Although afforestations are being established at high rates, effects on ecosystems are controversially debated and scientific studies are scarce. At the same time, only negligible parts of the region have a nature protection status.

Project Objectives
The RuralFutures project aims at applying the conceptual framework of ‘Multifunctional Productive Landscapes’ to silvi- and agriculturally modified grasslands of Uruguay and defines steps towards sustainable rural landscapes, which incorporate biodiversity targets and enhance ecosystem services.
This project contributes to the resolution of the following key questions:
1) How does grassland afforestation impact on biodiversity and community structure along a climatic gradient in different land use types and their ecosystem services?
2) How does grazing management modify these afforestation impacts and related biological invasions?
3) What is the potential of native tree species to be used in grassland afforestation?
RuralFutures implements a monitoring system and a multi-use evaluation framework on afforestation impacts based on the principle of Citizen Science for sustainable and participative long-term use. The junior research group analyses bioindicators on permanent plots and transects from afforestation sites to the surroundings. Based on the impact analysis, they review and optimize strategies towards ‘biodiversity-friendly’ and ‘most sustainable’ afforestation approaches as elements of multifunctional and sustainable productive rural landscapes. The project provides a sustainable monitoring and evaluation framework to assess the effectiveness of management and restoration strategies and an excellent opportunity to study afforestation impacts beyond the usual timeframe of short-term studies. The final results will provide deeper insights into mechanisms and tipping points of accelerated land use changes in the face of climate change.

Project Management
Dr. Ina Säumel
Technische Universität Berlin
Institute of Ecology
Ernst-Reuter-Platz 1
10587 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 31 47 1373


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