Presentation of ALMIRA Project

Mediterranean Rainfed Agrosystems (MRAs) provide various environmental and economic services of importance such as food production, preservation of employment and local knowhow, downstream water delivery or mitigation of rural exodus.These services have progression margins, thus making investments in such agrosystems highly profitable. In the meantime, expected climate change combined with demography and market pressures threaten MRA future abilities to satisfy the aforementioned services. In the context of mitigating the pressures induced by global change, ALMIRA aims to explore the modulation of landscape mosaics within MRAs to optimize landscape services. Following recommendations from think-tank IAASTD (2008),significant advances are expected by reasoning spatial organizations of land uses and cropping systems.

ALMIRA proposes a threefold conceptualization of landscape mosaics as

  1. networks of natural and anthropogenic elements that result from biophysical and socio-economic processes within a resource governance catchment,
  2. structures that impact landscape fluxes from the agricultural field to the catchment extent, with consequences on the resulting functions and services, and
  3. a possible lever for managing agricultural catchments by compromising on agricultural production and on preservation of soil and water resources.

To explore this new lever, ALMIRA proposes to design, implement and test a new Integrated Assessment Modelling approach that explicitly

  •  includes innovations and action means into prospective scenarii for landscape evolutions, and
  • addresses landscape mosaics and processes of interest from the agricultural field to the resource governance catchment.

This requires tackling methodological challenges in relation to

  • the design of spatially explicit landscape evolution scenarii,
  • the coupling of biophysical processes related to agricultural catchment hydrology,
  • the digital mapping of landscape properties and
  • the economic assessment of the landscape services.

The new Integrated Assessment Modelling approach is implemented and tested within three catchments located in France, Morocco and Tunisia. Beyond the obtaining of significant advances in the aforementioned methodological domains, and the understanding of landscape functioning and services for the considered catchments, outcomes are expected to help in revisiting former recommendations at the levels of agricultural field and resource governance catchment, and in identifying new levers that improve MRA management at the intermediate level of landscape mosaics.

ALMIRA gathers French, Moroccan and Tunisian researchers involved in a large range of scientific disciplines: hydrology, physical geography, climatology, pedology, remote sensing, spatial statistics, agronomy, agro-economy, sociology,agricultural and environmental economy. One of the major challenges of the project is to make all these disciplinesconverging towards a reproducible transdisciplinary approach.

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