This paper introduces and explores the possibilities of a concept that may bridge apparent divergences within the sustainable agriculture approach. Sustainable agriculture concepts may depart from different paradigms, varying from securing global and local resource availability, to maintaining functional integrity of farming systems. Likewise, many different terms have been suggested to address the sustainability of farming systems. This paper departs from the concept of resilience, and from this base explores principles of sustainable agriculture. Resilience is the capacity of a system to undergo disturbances, and at the same time maintain its functions. More resilient ecosystems are able to absorb larger disturbances without changing in fundamental ways. Resilient systems are able to adapt, to renew, to self-organize and to learn from change and disturbance. Ecological resilience plays a key role in the sustainability of farming systems. When loosing resilience, vulnerability increases, and the system is not able to exert its functions anymore as soon as disturbances occur. Not only production is lost, but also regulating and supporting functions, that are necessary for sustainable use of resources for future generations within the boundaries of one earth. Ecological resilience is the principle that connects both the production function of agricultural systems, and the regulating and supporting functions that are needed to sustain production for future generations. This paper has been written as a background paper for WWF-Netherlands, in order to provide input for the development of a vision on sustainable agriculture. The focus is on the ecological aspects of sustainability, as social-ethical and economic aspects are captured in a higher level vision on sustainable land-use.
Pagina's / pages: 47
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Abstract / summary in English:
Keywords in English: sustainability, resilience, biodiversity, soil health