ICTA-UAB economist Joan Martínez Alier wins the Balzan Prize for Environmental Challenges

Economist Joan Martínez Alier from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology  of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is one of the winners of the 2020 Balzan Prize in the category of "Environmental Challenges: Responses from the Social Sciences and Humanities".

Indigenous People Essential to Understanding Environmental Change

An international research involving ICTA-UAB scientists shows how local and indigenous knowledge can help manage ecosystems and wildlife.

New publication in the MAGIC project takes a critical look at circular economy

With the world’s attention focussed on COVID-19, issues that were in the forefront of public concern just a few months ago seem to have magically disappeared.

Economic Benefits of Protecting 30% of Planet’s Land and Ocean Outweigh the Costs at Least 5-to-1

First-of-its-kind report involving ICTA-UAB researcher shows the global economy is better off with more nature protected.

ICTA-UAB awarded the "María de Maeztu” Unit of Excellence Award for the second consecutive time

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been accredited a Maria de Maeztu Unit of Excellence Award for the second consecutive time by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Proyecto experimental de agricultura urbana, local y tradicional en Sabadell

El ICTA-UAB y el Ayuntamiento de Sabadell constituyen la comunidad FoodE, que reúne a todos los actores implicados en el sistema de producción alimentaria de la ciudad y en esta iniciativa.

What do we breathe when in the forest?

For the first time, a study characterizes the forest chemistry of the air under the canopy of a Mediterranean holm oak forest and detects maximum concentrations in July and August.

Catalonia's Scientific Contributions to Fighting Covid-19

Sixty ICREA researchers, including Isabelle Anguelovski of the ICTA-UAB, lead more than a hundred research activities on Covid-19.

Academia in the Time of COVID-19: Towards an Ethics of Care


Computer Platform Gives Visibility to Catalonia's Small Villages

A research team from the UAB, in collaboration with the Association of Microvillages of Catalonia, has created a Geographic Information System (GIS) for Active and Sustainable Hamlets (GISASH), which gathers information on the state of and services offered by the more than 330 municipalities in Catalonia with fewer than 500 inhabitants.

Environmental justice defenders victims of violence and murder

Grassroots movements halt environmental degradation in up to 27% of environmental conflicts worldwide, according to a study by the ICTA-UAB.

Technological changes and new low-carbon lifestyles, key to mitigating climate change impacts

In order to mitigate climate change impacts and achieve a more sustainable society, it is necessary to transform the current energy system based on fossil fuels into a model based on renewable energies.

Exploring climate change impacts through popular proverbs

Members of an irrigation community doing maintenance work in an acequia de careo (irrigation canal built at the top of the mountain) to improve the circulation of water for irrigation and human consumption.

Neolithic vessels reveal dairy consumption in Europe 7,000 years ago

Pottery from the site located in Verson (Francia) analysed during the research (Picture by Annabelle Cocollos, Conseil départemental du Calvados ou CD14 publicada en Germain-Vallée et al.

Economic growth is incompatible with biodiversity conservation

A study involving more than 20 specialists in conservation ecology and ecological economics highlights the contradiction between economic growth and biodiversity conservation.

Power struggles hinder urban adaptation policies to climate change

Transformative actions implemented by cities to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change may be hindered by political struggles for municipal power.

Analysis of tropical fire soot deposited in the ocean will help predict future global climate changes

The ICTA-UAB begins a scientific expedition in the Atlantic Ocean to collect dust and smoke samples from the fires of tropical Africa deposited in marine sediments.

Red coral effectively recovers in Mediterranean protected areas after decades of overexploitation

Protection measures of the Marine Protected Areas have enable red coral colonies (Corallium rubrum) to recover partially in the Mediterranean Sea, reaching health levels similar to those of the 1980s in Catalonia and of the 1960s in the Ligurian Sea (Northwestern Italy).

Sub-national “climate clubs” could offer key to combating climate change

‘Climate clubs’ offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally-harmonised climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Thesis defense of Ksenija Hanacek

Date: 2019-12-09

Date: Monday, December 9th 2019
Time: 15h 
Venue: Z/022 Espai Pirineu ICTA-UAB


Ksenija Hanacek
"Land-use changes, cultural ecosystem services, and environmental conflicts: Evidence from rural Bulgaria"

Directors: Johannes Langemeyer and Beatriz Rodríguez-Labajos

As a result of their interactions and interdependencies with people, agroecosystems contribute to the creation of cultural ecosystem services (CES) such as rural identity, traditional knowledge, and ceremonies related to cultivation. However, global agroecosystems are currently undergoing vast land-use changes –such as intensive agriculture, land abandonment, and urbanization– which are influenced by economic, policy, and market forces. Along with these trends, environmental conflicts are emerging between stakeholders with differing interests in land areas.

This dissertation holistically examines CES by critically studying how CES, in the light of relational values, are influenced by land-use changes, and further identifying environmental conflicts arising from changes in CES. The study begins at the global level, then uses Bulgaria as a case study at both the regional level and community levels, with particular emphasis on rural policies. Results of the research indicate that agroecosystems provide multiple interrelated CES that constitute global agricultural heritage. Further, land-use changes have a significant impact on culture and tradition, mainly at the expense of farmers and rural communities, and therefore lead to open and latent forms of environmental conflict. In the Bulgarian case study, stakeholders’ evaluation of CES at both regional and farm levels indicate CES evaluation is often disrupted due to land-use changes. Moreover, concerns about CES at the community level can emerge as environmental conflicts that are expressed openly thorough demonstrations or protests, provided the community’s political power for environmental management is high. When the degree of power is low, such CES-related conflicts are latent, expressed with a high importance placed on rural identity. Indeed, this study shows environmental conflicts over agricultural land appropriation are intertwined with cultural forms of dispossession.

On the basis of these findings, this dissertation argues global agricultural heritage is at risk of being lost due to land-use changes. More holistic land-use policies at different governance scales are needed that consider both the critical importance of local communities and the CES they co-create for preservation and nourishment of rural areas. Rural people and co-created CES play a fundamental role in defending ecosystem services distribution issues and promoting social, ecological, and economic well-being. Therefore, the participation of local stakeholders is important in land-use decision-making, and CES recognition in science and policy as pathways for the environmental preservation and social stability of marginalized rural areas.

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