Agricultural sustainability in a simple social-ecological system
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There is a growing consciousness of the complexity and universality of interactions between social and ecological systems. Here we investigate a simple social-ecological model of land cultivation. It is shown that even very simple rules of land-use and an ecosystem’s dynamics can generate a variety of possible stationary states. In particular, the possibility of the existence of “desirable” stationary states is examined. These desirable states are understood in the sense of sustainable development, that is, profitable for farmers and non-degrading for ecosystems. It turns out that the existence of such states can depend strongly on the parameters that are under a government’s control, e.g. subsides, and others. Although real systems can reveal much more complex and counterintuitive behaviour, such a “toy model” can at least give some insight, help to realize the range of possible scenarios and improve our intuition about what might happen in real systems.
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