Development of a Flexible Framework
Personal Proposition â€œRegeneration does not occur within the natural environment, it is a word created by man to initiate a process where the end result is to reassert value. Within the natural environment it is more of a continuous process of development, which responds to the changing conditions that can evolve over time. This strategy of continuous development will be echoed within a framework, which allows for a more flexible, responsive environment that evolves in parallel with the changing conditions. The outcome of the framework would be resilient to small changes whilst still allowing for an adaption to larger changes. This continuous adaptation will aim towards an equilibrium, a balance between opposing forces, the human and intristic forces, removing the need of anthropocentric activity to induce a state of regeneration in the future.â€?
Need for a dynamic flexible framework
How a flexible framework needs to respond in a Mediterranean Climate A framework that is flexible and adaptable is the key to success in a Mediterranean climate such as Portugal. The conditions rarely remain the same for more than a kilometre or two because of local variations in topography, soils, land use, climate and surface water conditions. It must respect the mosaic of the physical environment, social and historical variations that interact within the geographical space.
Idanha-aVelha is situated at an altitude of 270m above sea level and is surrounded by high terrain reaching 420m above sea level.
Topography map of Idanha-a-Velha
Historical Context Traditional farming practices in Idanha-a-Velha
â€œFor an agricultural activity to be counted as sustainable agriculture, it should satisfy three pre-conditions: it should not upset the natural environment, while at the same time it should be something that a farmer can afford to do and it should meet societyâ€™s needs. So it should be economically viable, socially responsible and ecologically sound.â€? WWF: Sustainable agriculture
Idanha-a-Velha is said to be one of the oldest towns in Portugal, a Roman settlement has been recorded on this site from year 16 AD. That means farming practises have been going on in the area for centuries, this gives the area a rich historical background when it comes to agriculture. Traditional agriculture can be seen to be sustainable as it meets the three pre-conditions previously stated. Traditional agriculture usually coincides with small scale farming or subsistence-like based agriculture, which utilizes natural processes to increase the yield. This in turn has a minimal negative impact on the natural environment. With such methods the produce is usually for the farmers own consumption and any excess produce will be either traded or sold but only in very small quantities.
Small traditional farming practise
Portugal Joining the European Union The impacts of joining the EU on the agricultural Industry Portugal joined the European Economic Community in 1986 which later became the European Union. After joining the EU Portugals economy progressed considerably as a result of the Structural and Cohesion funds which are financial tools set up to implement the regional policy of the European Union. They aim to reduce regional disparities in terms of income, wealth and opportunities. Portugal’s agriculture has been heavily shaped by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). With the reform of Common Agricultural Policy, a significant reduction in the number of producers through consolidation resulted in the end of traditional subsistence-like based agriculture.
What is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)? “Launched in 1962, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a partnership between agriculture and society, between Europe and its farmers. Its main aims are: To improve agricultural productivity, so that consumers have a stable supply of affordable food To ensure that EU farmers can make a reasonable living” European Commission: The Common Agricultural Policy
Traditional Barley Farming
The initial objectives were set out in Article 39 of the Treaty of Rome: To increase productivity, by promoting technical progress and ensuring the optimum use of the factors of production, in particular labour To ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural Community To stabilise markets To secure availability of supplies To provide consumers with food at reasonable prices
A large part of what CAP does is stop all the EU members competing against one another with produce. An example of this is: If all EU members produced Wheat grain there would be a large surplus of produce which would mean prices would drop and farmers would loose out.
An example of CAP
Mechanization of farming
To avoid this competitive market within the EU the CAP controls the amount of produce that can be grown in each country. The way in which they do this is by introducing quotas for each country for each produce. This also controls the price of the produce. When there is a surplus, to protect the price and the farmers the CAP buys the excess and stores it away. They release it into the market when needed which limits the fluctuation in the prices which creates a stable, more predictable market.
How has the CAP effected Portugal and Idanha-a-Velha’s agriculture?
Conversion from dry subsistence farming “ecologically sustainable” to an
Intensification of agrilculture through
mechanization fertilizer application promotion of irrigation “ecologically unsustainable” if conditions are not suitable
End of Subsistance Farming What effects come from the intensification of farming in Portugal?
One of the Common Agricultural Policy objectives was, â€œto increase productivity, by promoting technical progress and
ensuring the optimum use of the factors of production, in particular labourâ€?.
This can be classed as an intensification of farming through modern processes. This is where we get the theory of getting more for less, farmers are able to produce a greater volume of crop in a smaller area.
This new process can have negative effects for farmers for example, it is more productive for farmers to grow crop on a much larger scale as modern agricultural machinery is expensive so a greater yield is needed to compensate this expense. In 1997 the number of people employed in agriculture in the 12 member states of the European Union declined from 16.3 million in 1970 to just 7 million in 1990, falling from 13.5% to 5.5% of total employment. At the same time, farm sizes and agricultural production have increased, due to modern farming practises whereby machinary replaces manual labour which is proven to be more efficient and cost effective. This change in farming practice is resulting in the levels of subsidies going to smaller numbers of farmers as the farms are much larger. As employment in agriculture continues to decline the benefits of the original CAP are becoming less apparent.
Employment within the agricultural industry
16.3 million workers
7 million workers Number of people employed in agriculture in the 12 member of the EU in 1997
A Move from Subsistance Farming to Intensive Farming Damage on the landscape from Intensification of farming, the use of water The increase in intensive farming put a strain on water resources especially in the Mediterranean where water is a valued recourse. This strain had led to the conversion from dry farming to dense, fast growing, heavily fertilized and pest treated crops. In a climate that has a constant battle with the elements, water is a valuable resource, it is not able to sustain intensive farming practises without the intervention of humans. The image below indicates an area within Idanha-a-Nova where intensive farming is taking place. These green circles are areas of crop, the circular shapes reflect the range of the roving spinkler system used to irrigate the land. The water for the crops is being pumped up from an underground water aquifer, over time this can cause irreversible damage in drying out the land.
Use of irrigation on the landscape, South Idanha a Nova
Example of how water can effect and environment: Saudi Arabia
â€œWheat is irrigated in the Saudi desert with a roving sprinkler system. Finding enough land and water to support the eating habits of the worldâ€™s seven billion people is no small task, so the Saudis, among others, have taken to greening the desert. Their efforts are turning once barren land into sprouting oases through the use of modern, yet potentially shortsighted, watering technologies and methods. Although most of Saudi Arabia is sandy desert, the country was blessed with a massive underground aquifer.
Forty years ago, that aquifer held 120 cubic miles (500 cubic kilometers) of water, enough to fill Lake Erie. But roughly four-fifths of that water has been pumped out for irrigation over the past few decades, based on extraction rates detailed in a 2004 paper from the University of London. There is little hope for replenishment from rainwater, which averages less than eight inches (200 millimeters) a year. As a result of this dwindling supply and the high energy costs of drilling and pumping, the Saudi government has said irrigated wheat production should end by 2016. In order to feed itself, the Saudis are increasingly turning to agricultural holdings abroad.â€? Tasha Eichenseher The National Geographic
Whatâ€™s happening in Saudi Arabia is potentially happening in the Mediterranean. Farmers are taking water from the underground aquafers to feed their crops, at a rate higher than the aquafers are naturally being replenished. The aquafers feed rivers and sustain all life around them so any loss to this water source would be extremely detrimental for life in the Mediterranean. This level of intensive farming is damaging by:
Salinization- the salinity of the soil, this can be caused by human activity, for example the use of potassium as fertilizer, which can form sylvite, a naturally occurring salt. As soil salinity increases, the effects can result in degradation of soils and vegetation. â€œAs land degradation occurs, soil storage capacity is reduced, run off increases and erosion thresholds are passed. The high inter-annual variability of rainfall moves Mediterranean soils towards the thresholds of land degradation as the pressure on vegetative cover increases through lack of moisture. The supply of water for river flow replenishment and aquifer recharge is decreasingâ€?
Exhaustion of aquifersWhen the demand for what had increased people starting eating away at the underground water aquifers, lowering the water table increasing the speed of land degradation.
Land degradation- it is the reduction and loss of the biological and economic productivity caused by land-use change, or by a physical process or a combination of both.
Example of direction if land passes threshold
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) How did CAP effect the number of intense farms in the Idanha a Nova area? Some of the main objectives of CAP is: To stabilise markets To secure availability of supplies To provide consumers with food at reasonable prices
This is managed by limiting what each country can produce, in the case of Portugal CAP limited the amount of wheat the Portuguese could produce. Being the main crop cultivated in the Idanha a Nova area many people were left without jobs but also through the process of intensive farming they had done conciderable damage to the land.
Land abandonment after ploughing results in succession that requires around 20 years to reach an equilibrium as a mature ecosystem.
Example of how the land reacts to change
After a forest fire it often takes 8-10 years before pre-fire equilibrium between vegitation cover and sediment yield is re-established.
The farm land in Idanhaa-Velha once grew an assortment of crops has now been left without a use, but the years of crop growing has degradated the land which could lead to a threshold of no return. If the system crosses this invisible threshold, such as critical depth for plant growth or the basic need for water the tendincy is for change to be negative, self reinforcing and naturally irreversible. How close has the intense farming brought the lands to this threshold of no return.
Land Abandonment â€œIt is often claimed that land abandonment invariably leads to land degradation and desertificationâ€? Mediterranean Desertification, A Mosaic of Processes and Responses, Page 7
Land abandonment is not a new phenomenon it has been happening for centuries. It does not necessarily mean that land is no longer used, either by agriculture or any other rural economy; it means a change in land use from the traditional or recent pattern to another, less invasive pattern. We need to be able to identify how the landscape will change in relation to our knowledge of erosion risk and exhaustion of water resources.
Example of change of use in Idanha-aVelha - Traditional Oil press to Museum
â€œErosion is a natural process by which all protruding surfaces of land are worn down gradually by the elements, only to be replenished and re-formed time and time again by geological forces. Erosion becomes a greater issue when human activity intervenes to accelerate the natural process much greater than nature can replenish.â€? High erosion rates in a climate such as the Mediterranean can be attributed to poor vegetation cover which can be linked to the effects of intensive farming leaving the soils in poor conditions after the farming has commenced. This is down to the landuse management which if left untreated would cause the land to creep closer to the threshold of irreversible damage. Development of Vegitation
â€œIn the Mediterranean the ecosystems have a very low stability where the plants and soils both compete for water, a situation that can lead to catastrophic changes as a result of small changes in the inputs and outputs. Progresive degradation can move the system towards an unstable state without the dangers being recognized.â€? Mediterranean Desertification, A Mosaic of Processes and Responses, Page 7
A New Age of Farming The move from crop based farming to the farming of trees Since the halt of crop based farming other types of farming has taken off, in the area of Idanha-aVelha there are two main types of farming taking place. The farming of Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) and the Eucalyptus globulus (Eucalyptus). There isnâ€™t a big difference in the processes of intensive crop farming and intensive tree farming, the outcomes are relatively the same but with the tree farming the yield is over a much greater time.
Satelite of Albufeira da Barrangem de Marechal Carmona in Idanha a Nova
From aerial photography you can clearly see the river meandering through the hills. With the Mediterranean being such a dry climate there is a very delicate relationship between the vegetation and the water system. With the introduction of intense tree farming this relationship is threatened, I am to look at the extent to which this has become an issue.
The Delicate Relationship Assessing the relationship between the intensive tree farming and the river system The pink areas on the satalite image highlights sites where intensive tree farming is taking place along the river systems. Direction of River Flow
Direction of River Flow
Diagram showing areas of intensive tree farming in the Idanha a Nova area
Direction of River Flow
Land being used to intensively farm trees along the river system From this diagram we can clearly see a location pattern emerging. The tree plantations are positioned along the river system because these are the areas with the highest access to water so the trees flourish. The plantations are also situated on higher ground in the area, again this can be linked to the amount of water needed for the trees to grow as they catch the initial rainfall flowing down the hills.
Water Usage What effect the Intensive tree farming will have on the water system The problem with these tree plantations primarily lies with their water consumption. The trees on the plantations use a lot of water and when they are planted on a scale such as that of the Idanha a Nova region it develops into a big problem affecting the delicate relationship of the vegitation and water systems.
Water runs to the lowest point High Ground High Ground
Water meets at this point and carrys on down towards the lowest point
Low Ground Low Ground
Water runs to the lowest point
The tree plantations are always situated on high ground near to a water source. Further down the system other areas are struggling to cope with the lack of available water due to the plantations, which could be leading towards an invisible threshold. Inevitably this would result in the drying out of land, a lack of vegitation and therefore lack of life to the area.
â€œIn the Mediterranean the ecosystems have a very low stability where the plants and soils both compete for water, a situation that can lead to catastrophic changes as a result of small changes in the inputs and outputs.â€? Mediterranean Desertification, A Mosaic of Processes and Responses, Page 7
What is being Farmed in the Area? What damage is the intensive tree farming having on the land? In this area of Idanha-a-Nova there are two main trees being cultivated, Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) and Eucalyptus globulus. Douglas Fir was introduced into Portugal in the 19th Century and the first plantation opened later in the 20th Century. The Eucalyptus was introduced to Portugal in 1830, the species found privileged growing conditions in the Portuguese climate and soil. Pseudotsuga menziesii is grown for paper, 2x4 planks and for lumber. The time scale for harvesting is from 17 years for paper, 24 years for 2x4 planks of wood and 33 years for lumber. Eucalyptus globulus is considered by world specialists to have the ideal fibre for printing and writing papers. The tress are also a fast-growing, high mill performance species that also has a low chemical consumption during cooking and bleaching.
Pseudotsuga menziesii lumber
Eucalyptus globulus pulp for paper making
Mono-sylivicultural and Soil Productivity Forest plantations are very mono-sylivicultural which is a single specie ecosystem, this has a detrimental effect for the soils and for the local biodiversity. Timber harvesting and extensive site preparation (piling, windrowing or scalping) reduces the amount of surface organic material (woody residues and forest floor layer) over large areas. Such organic matter reductions can have important implications for the soils chemical, biological and physical properties.
Mycorrhiza: A process which is being effected by this intensive farming is the Mycorrhiza development. It is a mutualistic symbiosis relationship between plant and fungus which is localized in the root of the plant, in which energy (carbon compounds) moves from plant to fungus and phosphates move from the fungus to the plant. These symbioses are characterized as a bi-directional movement of nutriens which is beneficial for both plant and fungus within the soils. This along with other ground disturbances or removal of organic horizons has unknown ramifications on soil productivity. The relationship between roots and fungi
Monocultural Ecosystem What damage is the intensive tree farming having on the land? Forest plantations are very mono-sylivicultural which is a single specie ecosystem, this has a detrimental effect for the soils and for the local biodiversity. There is a single layer of vegitation and once harvested the soils are left bare which can have extreme implications when it comes to erosion.
Before the trees have been harvested:
The soil is shaded from the weather. It is protected from the sun but also shaded from any rain so the land can become very dry.
The water system underground gradually flows down to the lowest point and into the river. But the long roots of the trees taps into this water system therefore limiting the amout that reaches the river. This over a large area can have drastic effects on the water systems.
After the trees have been harvested: The soil is now open to the elements as there is no sub layer in the intensive tree farm therefore the ground after harvesting is at threat of being drastically eroded.
After harvesting the water system underground has been drastically reduced by the roots tapping into this source over a period of time. The rate of which the water is being repleshed is not as fast as the trees are using. This also has a dramatic effect on the river systems as the amount of water entrering the system is much less which causes a knock on effect further down the river system. This is moving the water system and biocentric systems that depend on this water source closer to the threshold of no return.
Crossing the Threshold A real possibility if the threshold is crossed: The lack of vegitation means erosion can happen at a increased rate. The top soils will be washed away leaving an infertile, dry, rocky ground to which nothing can grow.
The water system underground will completely dry up leaving the land dry and barron of any life. The river system is no longer being fed by the underground water systems which would result in river levels dropping dramatically and over time drying up all together. This threshold is a real threat to the Idanaha a Nova area especially when you look at the extent of the area upland that is covered by intense tree farms.
“Erosion is a natural process by which all protruding surfaces of land are worn down gradually by the elements, only to be replenished and reformed time and time again by geological forces. Erosion becomes a greater issue when human activity intervenes to accelerate the natural process much greater than nature can replenish.”
“As land degradation occurs, soil storage capacity is reduced, run off increases and erosion thresholds are passed. The high inter-annual variability of rainfall moves Mediterranean soils towards the thresholds of land degradation as the pressure on vegetative cover increases through lack of moisture.
Mediterranean Desertification, A Mosaic of Processes and Responses, Page 8
Mediterranean Desertification, A Mosaic of Processes and Responses, Page 8
The supply of water for river flow replenishment and aquifer recharge is decreasing”
Problems that have arisen due to Intensive tree farming: Poor soil productivity Increased Erosion of soils Water Management Mono-sylivicultural causing lack of biodiversity Crop yield between 17-33 years Relationship between soils and plants at risk Lack of jobs
Avoiding the Threshold How I intend to use my framework to guide away from the threshold
Development of an Ecosystem How my framework will develope, Maquette After finding the issues with intensive tree farming in the area and what outcomes it has for the soils, water sources and people of the area. I want to use my framework to develop a new relationship with the Anthro-biocentric tone, how people use vegetation for their gain without any consideration to the long term effects to the environment. Through my maquette I plan to explain how I plan to utilise my framework for this Anthro-Biocentric relationship. Intensive tree farms are set out in a grid like pattern. This is so the machines can fit easily between the trees when harvesting so can be more efficient. It is a mono-sylivicultural system with no sub vegetative layer. In Idana a Nova it is either Pseudotsuga menziesii or Eucalyptus globulus that is being farmed. My framework will be used to guide away from this mono-cultural process and to develop a more bio-diverse system to aid soil productivity, water management and conservation, increase job prospects and improve industry in the area. I plan to achieve this by creating a diverse anthro-biocentric system which reacts to the needs of the anthropocentric systems whilst improving the stability of the bio-centric. I want to move the mono-sylivicultural forests towards a stable state and improve its relationship with the water systems. The way to do this is to introduce new bio-centric systems to the mono cultural forest with the intention of improving soil productivity and improve the water resources. The bio-centric systems will be introduced slowly over a period of time, first to improve the soil productivity and react to the risk of erosion after harvesting. The trees which would be introduced to the intensive farming areas would have to be grown for a purpose that can make money, so becoming an incentive for the tree farmers to sacrafice land to grow these trees. Over time more and more species will be introduced with the goal of creating a bio-diverse ecology that is reviving soil productivity and helping to replenish the water resources. When selecting trees to introduce to the intensive tree farms they have to be selected for a purpose and have to be respectful to this Mediterranean climate.
Development of Maquette:
The white beads represent the mono-cultural forest (what the intensive forets look like now) a single layered ecosystem which is damaging to the soils and water systems.
Over time a new species which is represented by the coloured beads is introduced into the single specie forest with the intention of avoiding the erosion risk and start to retain water.
Introduction of new species, beginning of a balanced ecology.
Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6
Beginning of a balanced ecology, removal of intensive forest for more productive species. Yields more often than previous trees, more of a continuous productive economy.
There is a balance between the intense harvested trees and new productive trees. Harvests are more regular and continuous which helps with the local economy. The trees are returning nitrates to the soils so soil productivity is starting to rise.
The new productive trees are the dominant population within the forests, over time the underground water systems will recover as the new trees do not use as much water as the intensive farm trees such as the Douglas Fur.
Stage 7 Stage 9
Over time some of the new trees will die back which is okay as this is a flexible dynamic ecology which will aim naturally towards an equilibrium.
Eventually what will be created is a dynamic ecology that will respect the environment by improving soil productivity, limit the risk of erosion, retain water and limit the consumption of water. It can create industries from harvesting from the forest, not only wood but produce such as fruit, seeds, as well as many traditional foods of Portugal. This is a chance for the area to rebrand itself and create a brand out of using natural resources sustainabily. This has the ability to create new jobs in the area, promote tourism and overall tackle a big problem of desertification. This is a long term solution to a long term problem that would require an implimentation over many many years.
Precedent of Landscape Management Natural Englands Orchard Restoration “The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) is the UK government’s response to the 1992 Rio Convention on Biological Diversity. This landmark treaty was signed by more than 150 nations, each pledging to take steps to ensure the conservation of biological diversity. It is a co-ordinated strategy involving many partners, which aims to identify, conserve and enhance our biodiversity at the national and country level.” Natural England: Orchard Network
Natural England are promoting the traditional English orchards against the commerical orchards which are to be seen as harmful to the environment which is a similar story to what is happening in Idanha a Nova with the intensive tree farming. “The spacing of the trees varies according to fruit variety, with plums and cobnuts sometimes as little as 3m apart, apples 8-10m apart and cherry and perry pear orchards with spacings often over 20m. The planting pattern may be regular but successive re-plantings have often blurred any original order.” This process of blurring out any order is what is needed in the intensive tree farming in Portugal, this is similar to the flexible framework,over time the grib like pattern is lost creating a sustainable ecology as a more natural environment as it is allowed to change and adapt. Traditional orchards are managed extensively. This means little or no use of fertilisers or herbicides beneath the trees, or chemical insecticides and fungicides among the branches. The grassland sward is either grazed (by sheep or cattle) or allowed to grow and cut for hay. This is a great example of Anthro-biocentric relations, how anthropocentric systems and biocentric systems are benefiting from this mutual process.
Transition from Intense to Sustainable An incentive for farmers to change their processes “In nature, forest ecosystems are composed by mixtures of species located in the understorey, intermediate and overstorey layers and a potential increase in productivity with mixed stands and plantations, compared to pure stands of the component species is widely accepted, although this has not generally been incorporated into forestry practice.” Volume 107, Issues 1–3, 17 August 1998, Page 183
In northern Portugal there had been an experiment to test the theory that mono-sylivicultural forests harvest a higher yeild and at greater speeds when there is direct specie competition. In this experiment a series of sites were selected to become tests for this theory, in each site they selected different species of trees to compete against Pseudotsuga menziesii in different formations. The results where that: “These mixtures are also performing better over time, both in productive and economic terms, suggesting that this flexible silvicultural system will represent in the future, where changes in the types of wood demanded and corresponding prices are expected, a very interesting and useful land use alternative in mountain areas.” Volume 107, Issues 1–3, 17 August 1998, Page 190
Experiment in tree types
Pseudotsuga menziesii forest
Measuring the need for Regeneration Every landscape is different so a way of measuring what level of regeneration is needed Conditions that require different approaches:
Continuous Dynamic Intervention (continuous dynamic regeneration) This is a planned continuous process which altered the current system to something which is more stable, productive and improves the Anthro-biocentric relationship.
This is an intervention that takes place on land that still has the intense farming taking place. This intervention will use the framework to move the planting away from intense to a more natural ecosystem. This would be a planned change and would take place over a long period of time. It would move the system away from the threshold and create a more sustainable ecosystem.
Emergency Intervention (emergency regeneration) This is an intervention that is urgently needed as systems have exceeded or are close to the threshold, this process is Bioanthropocentricly led.
This intervention takes place on land that has reached or is close to the threshold. This would be identified by the plants suffering from lack of water and river systems would be monitored to discover any drops in levels. This would also take place on land that has had intense farming practises take place on it and has now ceased. This would be an opportunity for the land to be revived at greater speeds to improve the soil productivity and therefore helping with the reduction of water.