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11 Soil as a Support of Biodiversity and Functions

Banwart, S.A., Noellemeyer, E., Milne, E. CABI PDF


Soil as a Support of Biodiversity and Functions

Pierre-Alain Maron* and Philippe Lemanceau


The soil is a major reservoir of biological diversity on our planet. It also shelters numerous biological and ecological processes and therefore contributes to the production of a considerable number of ecosystem services. Among the ecological, social and economic services identified, the role of soil as a reservoir of diversity has now been well established, along with its role in nutrient cycling, supporting primary productivity, pollution removal and storing carbon.

Since the development of industrialization, urbanization and agriculture, soils have been subjected to numerous variations in environmental conditions, which have resulted in modifications of the diversity of the indigenous microbial communities. As a consequence, the functional significance of these modifications of biodiversity, in terms of the capacity of ecosystems to maintain the functions and services on which humanity depends, is now of pivotal importance. The concerns emanating from the scientific community have been reiterated in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA, 2005) published by the policy makers. This strategic document underlines the need to consider biodiversity as an essential component of ecosystems, not only because of its involvement in providing services essential to the well-being of human societies but also because of its intrinsic value in terms of a natural patrimony that needs to be preserved. This objective cannot be raised without the improvement of our ability to predict the effects of environmental changes on soil biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the associated services; this requires a better quantification of soil biodiversity at different temporal and spatial scales, and its translation into biological functioning. Major advances in molecular biology since the mid-1990s have allowed the development of techniques to investigate and resolve the diversity of soil microbial communities (Maron et al., 2007).

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16: Environmental Impacts of Rodenticides

Buckle, A.P.; Smith, R.H. CABI PDF


Environmental Impacts of Rodenticides

R.H. Smith1 and R.F. Shore2

School of Applied Sciences, University of Huddersfield,

Huddersfield, UK; 2NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology,

Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster, UK



It is usually very difficult to control a pest

(the ‘target’) using chemicals without causing some collateral damage to other (‘non-target’) species. Non-target damage should, of course, be minimized. Whether or not non-target damage is regarded as significant usually depends on whether only a few individuals are affected or whether there is an impact on the wider population. A few deaths of individuals may quickly be compensated for by density-dependent processes (see Chapters

1 and 5), for example by increased births, fewer deaths or compensatory migration.

Effects on populations are, however, of concern, especially if those effects continue into the next generation. In the case of animals or plants of conservation interest, it may be that no accidental death or impairment is acceptable. In addition, it is often regarded as unacceptable to cause suffering to higher organisms such as birds and mammals. All of these concerns involve value judgements that differ between contexts and societies, and often within societies. Different interests and values must be balanced and weighed up in a benefits–harm analysis. The trade-off between benefit and harm that is acceptable is a function of the legislative framework, the pressure to reduce pest damage, and what is

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3 Soil Carbon Transition Curves: Reversal of Land Degradation through Management of Soil Organic Matter for Multiple Benefits

Banwart, S.A., Noellemeyer, E., Milne, E. CABI PDF


Soil Carbon Transition Curves:

Reversal of Land Degradation through

Management of Soil Organic Matter for

Multiple Benefits

Meine van Noordwijk*, Tessa Goverse, Cristiano Ballabio,

Steven A. Banwart, Tapas Bhattacharyya, Marty Goldhaber,

Nikolaos Nikolaidis, Elke Noellemeyer and Yongcun Zhao


Soils provide important ecosystem services at the local, landscape and global level. They provide the basis for crop, livestock and forestry production and help mitigate climate change by storing carbon. With expectations of a growing bioenergy supply to meet global energy demand added to the imperative to feed a global population of 9 billion people by mid-century and beyond, coupled with higher per person food demands than currently provided, the challenges to keep agricultural and rangeland soils healthy and productive are daunting. In this paper, we explore the existence of a common pattern in the use of soils under increasing demand for productivity – here described as a soil carbon transition curve: a rapid decline of soil carbon due to human clearing of natural vegetation for agricultural land use and management practices, followed by a

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11: Empowering Women through Conservation Agriculture: Rhetoric or Reality? Evidence from Malawi

Chan, C.; Fantle-Lepczyk, J. CABI PDF


Empowering Women through

Conservation Agriculture:

Rhetoric or Reality? Evidence from Malawi

Jane Maher,1* Paul Wagstaff 2 and John O’Brien2

Department of Geography, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College

Dublin, Dublin, Ireland; 2Concern Worldwide, Dublin, Ireland


11.1  Introduction

Malawi is a landlocked country in southern Africa, 1,500 km from a seaport. It is one of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), with a GDP per capita of US$805 in 2011, and ranks 170th out of 185 on the Human Development

Index, an indicator that combines life expectancy, education, and income as a measure of development (UNDP, 2013). In Malawi, agriculture is the primary economic sector, representing approximately 37% of the country’s GDP and employing about 80% of the labor force in 2010 (African Development Bank, 2012).

Approximately 80% of Malawi’s population lives in rural areas (World Bank,

2012); 90% of these people are smallholder farmers that rely on rainfed subsistence farming techniques (IFAD, n.d.). Systematic plowing of agricultural land has intensified in recent years due to land scarcity, which has resulted in significant soil degradation and declining yields (Scherr and Yadav, 1996). As in much of

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3 Setting a Baseline: Case Studies


Case Studies



In undertaking to choose which interviews would be most appropriate to examine as case studies, it became readily apparent that two case studies of unlike natures would best provide a demonstration of the richness of the data present in all twenty-two of the transcripts. Therefore, the two women chosen as case studies were at opposite ends of the leadership spectrum, and provided an in-depth view of two quite dissimilar narratives of leadership development. Alice, twenty-eight, and at the beginning of her career, had been brought up in an environment that offered access to nearly every educational and social opportunity available to children in rural Northern Ireland. Alternatively, Doreen (twenty-four years Alice’s senior, with decades of work experience) faced challenges that had kept her from participating in most of those same activities. In addition to their age and social differences, Alice’s leadership development process had been shaped considerably by External Factors and Doreen’s vastly more by Internal Factors.11 The slight variations in data presentation between Alice and Doreen’s case studies demonstrate the flexibility necessitated by incorporating such dissimilar voices, and the value of a methodology that creates space for such flexibility.

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