Africa´s future is the object of expectations, dreams, fears and contestations. It emerges from the present, but it is not completely contingent. This is the starting point of the collaborative research center (CRC): Future-making, the CRC´s key concept, means that ideas of the future are envisioned and translated into plans, policies, and spatial transformations. They materialize along newly emerging development corridors, shifting bio-cultural frontiers and large-scale land-use changes.
The CRC addresses the intricate relationship between future-making and social-ecological transformation. It combines expertise from different academic disciplines, ranging from geography, anthropology, and agronomy to political science, vegetation ecology and virology.
With their focus on “future-making”, the members of this large-scale project adopt a perspective that is different from previous approaches to social-ecological research: priority will be given to African actors and their ideas, wishes and expectations in respect of the shaping of future-oriented developments. The general concept of the project is inspired by recent debates in future theory. It distinguishes between concepts of the future based on probabilities, forecasts and models, and concepts which consider future in the form of visions, imaginations and aspirations. While the former approach is common in the natural sciences, the latter is preferred by researchers in the social sciences. For any enquiry into “future-making” in the field of tension between probabilities and possibilities, both approaches are important.
CRC 228 focuses on three growth corridors: the Kenyan Rift Valley, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), and the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) in southern Africa. The researchers examine how the apparently contrary processes of agricultural intensification, on the one hand, and extension of nature reserves, on the other hand, affect land use, people, and future prospects.
The central research questions of the CRC address the relationship between large-scale land use change, social-ecological transformation, and future-making. They serve as guidelines for interdisciplinary cooperation.
For further details about concepts, study sites and all the projects within the Collaborative Research Centre "Future Rural Africa" (CRC 228), please visit the official website:
|The sub-project A01 views the future-making in rural Africa through a carbon lens. Soil and vegetation science closely collaborate with environmental economics to study the potential range and likelihood of outcomes of future-making by focusing on land-use decisions that affect above and below-ground carbon storage. Along three major pathways of land-use change in rural Africa (conservation, restoration, and agricultural intensification), we will evaluate carbon storage dynamics in soil and vegetation, and assess relationships with other soil- and vegetation-mediated ecosystem services (ESs) and local rural well-being.|
While carbon stocks in vegetation have long been a major topic of interest for the climate-policy community, soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks are just coming into focus, for example, in the context of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).
Our project will answer the following research questions:
1) At which temporal scales is carbon sequestered in soils and vegetation, and how are these processes related to land-use?
2) Do conservation and restoration schemes offset the carbon losses per unit of area under agricultural intensification?
3) What are the key determinants of systemic coupling mechanisms between land-use decisions, carbon storage, and other ESs, and
4) how do bio-physical and socioeconomic factors interact in determining the cost-effectiveness of existing or planned conservation, restoration, and intensification strategies in terms of ES and welfare outcomes?
Our methodological approach to answer these questions relies on primary data from soil and vegetation samples as well as on household survey data and remote sensing analyses. For information on the vegetation ecology done by the Linstädter team, see: our role in Future Rural Africa.
Liana Kindermann (PhD student)
Magnus Dobler (PhD student)
|Funding||Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)|
Dr. S. Angombe, University of Namibia (UNAM), Faculty of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Dr. E. Klingelhöffer, Dr. E. C. Fabiano, UNAM, Katima Mulilo Campus, Namibia
Prof. Dr. C.C. Du Preez, Dr. E. Kotzé, University of the Free State, South Africa
Within our study site in Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), the onset of land-use change for a given piece of land can be clearly identified via analyses of historical documents and satellite imagery. Taking advantage of this unique setting, soil and vegetation science will use a common study design and harmonize methodologies. Different ages of sites will offer a chronosequence for reconstructing temporal effects on ecosystem properties (see Figure 1A).
The main goals for our vegetation studies:
A) Identify carbon stocks in plant biomass
B) Determine ecological drivers of biomass gains & losses
C) Assess plants' carbon input into the soil
D) Explore biodiversity effects on carbon storage and other ecosystem services
Hence, our sampling design allows projecting carbon gains and losses in relation to other ecosystem properties for a given pathway of land-use change. Together with other projects working in KAZA, this approach enables us to compare the “future of possibilities” for conservation and intensification with the “future of probabilities”. For the pathway of restoration, we will establish a coupled field experiment on rangeland and soil restoration to directly assess changes in carbon storage and other ecosystem services over a 12-year period.