CASEST (for “Anthropogenic constraints to Tropical Social-ecological systems”)

CASEST (for “Anthropogenic constraints to Tropical Social-ecological systems”) is an international project which aim is to investigate the interfaces between nature and society particularly between wildlife and agricultural practices around protected areas (PAs). Biodiversity conservation has become a main human-community issue at a regional, state or worldwide scale. While countries have implemented lots of rules and laws, biodiversity erosion has not been stopped during the last decades. Although their dynamics threatened natural habitats, agricultural practices and land use have been pointed out by worldwide experts as major causes of biodiversity erosion (cf. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). The CASEST project (for “Anthropogenic constraints to Tropical Savanna Social-ecological systems”) aims to gather regional and international research units studying interplays between nature and human activities involving agricultural practices around protected areas (PAs). Although PAs are supposed to protect natural habitats excluding agriculture within their boundaries, peripheral zones around PAs were so anthropogenic that they seem to fail to maintain their buffer roles. From tropical biomes, savannas were one of the most threatened areas because of the dynamics of land use and agricultural expansion. In this context, a worldwide, integrative and sustainable network between all stakeholders of the savanna socio-ecological system (SES) is urging including researchers with diverse and complementary skills at the interplay between social, ecological, agricultural and economic sciences. Because it is a current gap, this project aims to build a conceptual framework of savanna SES. This project will allow to improve the worldwide knowledge of the regional research for biodiversity conservation gathering international research units through a valuable and active research network. In this context, this project is a reply to the worldwide concern for conservation biodiversity (e.g. decades of United Nations for biodiversity 2010-2020, objective of sustainable development 2030 of United Nations, COP21, and European strategy for biodiversity 2020). The CASEST project allows to (1) fortify current collaborations built by UMR CNRS 6545 LETG-Angers with prestigious research units to build the conceptual framework of the SES at the interface of agriculture and biodiversity on Savanah areas, (2) extend the partnership to experts of different skills in social, ecological, agricultural and economic sciences including strategies of stakeholders, (3) maintain a regional and international expertise to build decision making monitor system for land use change public policies sustainability, (4) gather regional research units working with LETG-Angers in a unique and noticeable network to apply to other bids and grants. LETG (Angers, Nantes), ESO (Le Mans, Nantes, Angers), ESA (Angers) and Agrocampus Ouest (Angers) pull together their complementary approaches on the anthropogenic processes in natural environments, with a strong ambition to lead this international consortium. From their African and South American expertise, those research units earn an outstanding name on analytic tools in social, agronomic and ecological sciences allowing to conceptualize the agri-environmental linkages in tropical savanna SES. Finally, the CASEST consortium relies on three LTER-Long Term Ecological Research (Program PELD in Brazil, Zone Atelier CNRS INEE Hwange in Zimbabwe and the Garden Route in South Africa) studying the PA – buffer zone complex in tropical savannas including the following partners: Oxford and Cambridge University (United Kingdom), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (South Africa), the Zimbabwean universities UZ and NUST and the RP-PCP platform, Universidade Fedral do Mato Grosso do Sul and EMBRAPA (Brazil), Natural History Museum and University of Copenhagen (Denmark), James Cook University (Australia), Chatham University and Wildlife Conservation Society (USA), Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Colombia), the CNRS, CIRAD and le Réseau National des ZA de l’INEE (France). The financial means provided by the Pays de la Loire region will be used to finance 2 post-doctoral researchers who will spend part within the 3 LTSER sites. Grants for visiting professors and for incoming and outgoing mobility guarantee intensive exchanges between scientists and students. The recruitment of a half-time project manager will assure the good progression of the project. We already obtained additional funding for about 15% of the Pays de la Loire grant, notably by the University of Angers.

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