Participants of the first international “Landscape 2018” conference in Berlin. <br/> Photo: © Tony Haupt

Participants of the first international “Landscape 2018” conference in Berlin.
Photo: © Tony Haupt

Landscape 2018: Food Security, Climate Change, Sustainability

The central role of agricultural landscape research in achieving the UN sustainability goals was in the focus of the first Landscape Forum organised by the German Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research.

The first Landscape Forum assembled around 250 participants from 25 countries from 12 to 16 March 2018 in Berlin/Germany. The conference, organised by the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in cooperation with international partners, focused on the central challenges of globalised agriculture: Climate Change, Food Security, Sustainability. More than 75 keynote and session presentations, 70 posters, four thematic workshops and three field trips focused on the networking of diverse scientific disciplines and actors under the thematic umbrella of Agricultural Landscape Research.
The agricultural landscape is a highly topical issue, as the majority of the United Nations' sustainability goals adopted in 2015 – such as the reduction of climate-damaging greenhouse gases, poverty reduction or food security – depend directly or indirectly upon the use of agricultural land.
Professor Frank Ewert, Scientific Director of the ZALF and one of the chairs of the Conference, emphasised in his opening speech the importance of agricultural landscape research for the implementation of these sustainability goals. "The central challenge of our disciplines is that of finding a balance between food security for a growing world population by increasing productivity on the one hand, and the demand for sustainable agriculture adapted to climate change and other sustainability goals on the other", said Ewert. "Agricultural landscape research can and must build bridges here: between disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, between application orientation and basic research." This would make it possible to respond even better to major trends such as digitisation, globalisation and sustainability, and to meet the global challenges more effectively.
Prof. Mark Rounsevell from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT, IMK-IFU - also based in Germany) as one of the Conference chairs, also pointed out the central role of agricultural landscape research in achieving the UN sustainability goals: "How can the balance between individual goals be achieved and how can conflicts be mediated", was one of the central questions of his introductory note. "If we reforest forests to combat climate change and grow crops to produce energy, will there be enough land remaining for food production or for the all-important conservation of biodiversity?" asked Rounsevell.

Structure of the conference and final notes

The conference was divided into three parallel sessions: Session I - Landscape Processes, Session II - Land Use and Governance and Session III - Landscape Synthesis, and ended with a final plenary discussion on the role and future agricultural landscape research on the last day.
Yiqi Luo, Professor at the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology at the University of Oklahoma; U.S.A., opened the first day with a keynote speech on "Microbial Modelling and Beyond".
Sandrine Petit, Research Director at the French Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA, UMR Agroecologie), introduced the participants to Session II with her keynote speech "Landscape, biodiversity and agro-ecological services".
"Landscape science: the role of models, data and theory" was the keynote address delivered on the last day of presentations by Marcel van Oijen of the English Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).
"The management of land use in terms of sustainability goals requires more interdisciplinary knowledge about the interactions between natural and social processes and factors related to landscape use.
Sustainable measures and concepts for their implementation can only be developed in close interaction between the most recent research findings and intensive exchange with all relevant stakeholders", summarised Conference Host Professor Katharina Helming from the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in the concluding discussion. ZALF wants to establish longer term formats of exchange on these issues. Landscape 2018" was an important step in this direction.
For more information please visit the Landscape 2018 website

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