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Urbanisation and the associated social-ecological transformations in the rural-urban interface are of global relevance. We address these topics in FOR2432 using Bengaluru, South India, as an in situ laboratory. The interdisciplinary research agenda of FOR2432 is based on a comprehensive social-ecological systems (SES) framework and is implemented in partnership between Indian and German scientists. Eleven scientific projects study different facets of production, exchange, and demand-driven consumption of goods and services across a range of relevant temporal and spatial scales. They take into account that land, water, labour, and capital are the critical resources on which all agricultural production systems, and in fact, entire societies, depend.
Based on hypotheses-driven work at the field and household scales, FOR2432 studies transition pathways and their ecological implications in response to urbanisation in soil science, crop production, livestock husbandry, ecology and socio-economics. Methodologically, this includes interdisciplinary factorial experiments, a socio-economic panel survey of households in two research transects that spans the rural-urban interface, remote sensing approaches, and models that link disciplines and analytical scales. Intermediate results confirm that transition processes are ultimately reflected in complex polycentric patterns of change in regional land-use patterns and food consumption practices. Analysed as spatio-temporal processes, changes in the demands placed on ecosystem services, and in the distribution of socio-economic household structures and value chains, reveal considerable non-linearities and internal structures within the research transects. Results to date also show that the effects of urbanisation on agricultural and non-agricultural livelihoods extend far beyond the visible landscape changes.
Our current research into the social-ecological interactions around the key resource water includes hydrology at the catchment scale, analysis of water quality in lakes, irrigation and drinking water, its effects on animal feed and crops, and conflicts of water use and governance. The links between human and environmental health are of particular interest. We analyse the diversity and heterogeneity observed along the rural-urban gradient under the overarching themes of (micro-)variability and polycentricity. The latter term provides a bridge to governance research, capturing not only individual households’ preferences and choices, but also policies, local movements and civil society. This will widen the research scope of FOR2432 to better integrate social science approaches.
Over the entire duration of FOR2432 we will study real-time processes by repeated observation at different temporal resolutions. We will continue to extend the time frame backward by analysing land use history based on satellite images, and forward by means of simulation models. FOR2432 thus will advance our understanding of social-ecological transitions in the rural-urban interface, and will generate concepts for the sustainable management of these transitions.
GLP Methods: Consumer Preferences, Econometrics, Game Theory, Institutional Analysis, Interdisciplinary methods, Modelling, Qualitative social science methods (interviews, observations, document review, surveys), Remote Sensing, Supply and value chains, Synthesis/meta-analysis/meta-study