Effects of global changes on ecosystems services of multiple natural resources in mountain agricultural landscapes.


Christchurch Health & Development Study, Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School, University of Otago, PO Box 4345, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. Electronic address: [Email]


Ongoing global changes can make unprecedented alterations in the state of some natural resources and their ecosystems services (ESs), especially in mountain agricultural landscapes. Considering the risk suggested by the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment, this study collected descriptive (qualitative) data in Nepalese mountain farming communities through field observation, group discussion, and personal interview, and investigated changing conditions of ESs of various natural resources in agricultural landscapes and their repercussions on mountain communities. The results showed that global changes induced new resources and institutions for mountain farming practices and altered important socioecological processes determining ESs. They have contributed to reductions in natural hazards and climate change and improvements in recreational and waste management services in mountain farming landscapes. Biodiversity status changes of the external factors in the agricultural landscapes are mixed: reasonably enriched plant species diversity and wildlife habitat, and seriously degraded or extinct indigenous species and genetic diversity. One of the serious negative changes is they have contributed to extinction of locally adaptable natural capitals and community heritages that had been developed through century-long socioecological processes and passed through extreme climatic variabilities and other environmental stresses at numerous times. The study determined that some recently emerging local biotic conditions result mainly from changes in the condition of water resources, not from changes in climatic conditions. The external factors also hampered human input into soil formation in degraded lands, soil quality, soil-water conservation and local knowledge systems. Overall, the effects of the changes found mixed on human and environment health. This multiple natural resources-based study has contested some arguments and conclusions of popular literatures.