Future Rural Africa

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Source: CRC Future Rural Africa - Collaborative Research Center 228
Logo
Source: CRC Future Rural Africa - Collaborative Research Center 228

Collaborative Research Centre Future Rural Africa -

Future-making and social-ecological transformation

 

Future Rural Africa is a large transdisciplinary collaborative research centre addressing the intricate relationship between future-making and social-ecological transformation. Future-making, the CRC´s key concept, means that ideas of the future as envisioned today are 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 project combines expertise from different academic disciplines, ranging from geography, anthropology, and agronomy to political science, vegetation ecology, and virology. The CRC is funded by German Research Foundation (DFG, runtime of 1st phase: 01/2018 – 12/2021).

 

Official website: Future Rural Africa 

 

Mission

 

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.

  • How can we understand and research future-making in rural Africa from different disciplinary perspectives?
  • How and by whom are rural African futures made probable and/or possible?
  • What are the main challenges and consequences of future-making in rural Africa?
  • In which way are conflicting visions of future expressed, negotiated, and translated into large-scale land-use change and ensuing social-ecological transformation?

We are participating in the CRC with project A01: Future Carbon Storage [link to subproject site], in which we as vegetation ecologists determine carbon storage in trees and shrubs along pathways of land-use, and collaborate closely with soil scientists, environmental economists, GIS experts, and Namibian scientists with a focus on wildlife management.

 

Opportunities You are welcome to inquire about possibilities for PhD or post-doctoral positions. Please check [vacant positions] (https://www.uni-potsdam.de/de/ibb-biodiversitaet/job-openings) or contact Prof. A. Linstädter (linstaedteruni-potsdamde) directly. Should you seek opportunities for a Bachelor or Master thesis, please check our institutional list of topics for theses [Topics for Theses] (https://www.uni-potsdam.de/en/ibb-biodiversitaet/topics-for-theses).

scientists at fieldwork
Photo: L. Kindermann

 

Vegetation ecologists and soil scientists at field work in Mudumu National Park (Namibia's Zambezi Region).

scientists at fieldwork
Photo: L. Kindermann
field research team
Photo: L. Kindermann

 

Field research team for vegetation ecology at Kwando river, Namibia 2019: S. Mahulilo, D. Niedeggen, M. Dobler, L. Kindermann (left to right).

field research team
Photo: L. Kindermann

 

Future Carbon Storage

 

The project Future Carbon Storage (A01 within CRC Future Rural Africa) is jointly headed by three PIs from the University of Potsdam and the University of Bonn.

 

Aims

Project A01 views the consequences of future-making in rural Africa through a carbon lens. Together with soil scientists, we as vegetation ecologists determine carbon storage in vegetation and soil under varying land-uses. Along two major pathways of land-use change (conservation and agricultural intensification), we evaluate carbon storage dynamics and carbon losses through disturbances. Along the conflicting pathways, we furthermore assess synergies and trade-offs between carbon storage and other ecosystem services which are important to local livelihoods.

Approach

Our methodological approach relies on allometric tree and shrub measurements and our newly developed method for biomass and biomass loss estimation in disturbed dryland vegetation. This data is complemented by biodiversity metrics, plant functional traits, C:N analyses, and ethnobotanical questionnaires.

Expected Outcome

Understanding carbon storage potential and at which temporal scales carbon is sequestered in soil and vegetation; Assessing in how far carbon storage dynamics are influenced by land-use and future-making; Quantifying whether carbon losses from agriculture can be offset by nature conservation schemes; Understanding systemic coupling mechanisms between land-use decisions, carbon storage, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services.

Persons Involved

 

 

 

 

 

PI

Prof. Dr. Anja Linstädter

 

PhDs

Liana Kindermann, University of Bonn 

Cooperation partners

Faculty of Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Namibia (UNAM), Namibia

Department for Wildlife Management and Ecotourism, University of Namibia (UNAM), Namibia

Institute for Food- and Resource Economics (ILR), Economics of Sustainable Land Use and Bioeconomy, University of Bonn

Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES), Division of Soil Science, University of Bonn

 

Outreach

 

 

 

 

 

elephant browsing damages trees
Photo: L. Kindermann

 

Elephant browsing damages trees and shrubs and hence decimates and controls woody biomass; currently recovering elephant populations limit potential carbon storage in the vegetation.

elephant browsing damages trees
Photo: L. Kindermann
new fields in savannas
Photo: L. Kindermann

 

New fields in savannas are created by cutting trees and burning woody vegetation, which on the one hand reduces carbon storage in biomass but on the other enriches soils with charcoal particles.

new fields in savannas
Photo: L. Kindermann
people in rural Africa depend on ecosystem services such as firewood
Photo: L. Kindermann

 

Many people in rural Africa depend on ecosystem services such as firewood for their livelihoods.

people in rural Africa depend on ecosystem services such as firewood
Photo: L. Kindermann
many savanna ecosystems are used for cattle husbandry
Photo: L. Kindermann

 

Many savanna ecosystems are used for cattle husbandry; bush fires are employed to remove senescent grass from the dry season and spark fresh growth; shrubs and trees are used as a dry season feed for cattle and also for many medicinal uses.

many savanna ecosystems are used for cattle husbandry
Photo: L. Kindermann