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Quantification of Ecosystem Function: Challenges and Benefits

Workshop on Quantification of Ecosystem Function: Challenges and Benefits - January 28-29, 2010 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

There is currently a renewed research interest and public debate on the resilience of natural and managed ecosystems, especially in the uncertain climates of the future. This interest fits within a broader context of the economics of biodiversity, impacts of changing ecosystem function on human well being, quantification of ecosystem function and its potential benefits to the economy and society. Building resilience implies protection against future events that are unknown and/or must be estimated or predicted and this future dimension further complicates the topic. Many biotic and abiotic factors contribute to the resilience of ecosystems to internal or external influences. As each factor rarely operates independently of others, research on complex ecosystems requires an understanding of interactive physical and biological resources. A comprehensive understanding of ecosystem resilience must therefore transcend the traditional boundaries set by academic disciplines. Such an integrated analysis requires multidisciplinary approaches sometimes without the support of an extensive published literature. Any attempt to build and manage ecosystem resilience requires an understanding of ecosystem function.

Whilst agricultural ecosystems (agroecosystems) are a subset of more complex natural ecosystems, their investigation, understanding and management has rarely used common approaches. In addition, agriculture employs human resources that are often linked with socio-economic factors that determine the existing and potential end-uses of some parts of the ecosystem. Nevertheless, any attempt to build agroecosystem resilience may benefit from a better understanding of ecosystem function.

The British High Commission in Singapore is one of the project partners in a European project called SEA-EU-NET within the EC's FP7 (Seventh Framework Programme). The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) is a fully integrated branch campus of the University of Nottingham with extensive research interests in the dynamics of natural and managed ecosystems. The British High Commission and SEA-EU-NET with the support of UNMC are sponsoring a scientific workshop on the Quantification of Ecosystem Function: Challenges and Benefits. Within the broader context described above, participants are encouraged to consider two issues for further investigation:

• How can we quantify ecosystem function using multidisciplinary approaches?

• What lessons from an understanding of natural ecosystem function can be applied to agroecosystems?

The workshop will be held in Kuala Lumpur on 28-29 January 2010. The main aim of the workshop is to foster collaborations between researchers from the EU and SEA, build networks and identify key areas for future EU-SEA collaborations.


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