On August 28th the LEGATO project team held a successful workshop on rice ecosystem services and ecological engineering at the 6th Annual International Conference of the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) in Bali, Indonesia. The session titled "Rice Ecosystem Services" illustrated the conference motto "Making Ecosystem Services Count!" by presenting the interlinkage of different dimensions of ecosystem service research in LEGATO and collaborating projects, from water management and pollution, via the role of bio-indicator species, in particular of dragonflies (to signalise such threats in an integrative manner), to social science method applications revealing the ecosystem service perceptions of stakeholders to the central role cultural values and perceptions play in establishing, mobilising, using and sustaining ecosystem services and the systems that provide them.
LEGATO aims to advance long-term sustainable development of irrigated rice fields. Rice ecosystems are anthropogenically managed for provisioning services, mainly food production, but also require soil and water management. In the LEGATO project, all three types of services are analysed in isolation and in their interactions, with special emphasis on the role of, impact on and effects of biodiversity, and the potentials for ecological engineering to safeguard the sustained provision of these ecosystem services. The project findings and objectives were presented at the workshop by LEGATO speakers Vera Tekken, Anja Müller, Jürgen Ott, and Joachim H. Spangenberg. The project coordinator Josef Settele could not attend, but a presentation by him was showcased. One other LEGATO core expert, Benjamin Burkhard, was involved in the organisation of the whole ESP conference. An additional speaker was Zita Sebesvari from the United Nations University, a long-time collaboration partner.
At the LEGATO workshop new insights for the future of rice ecosystem services were presented. It was pointed out that in rice ecosystems, in particular in South East Asia, physical, biological, economic, social and cultural including spiritual concerns are so closely interwoven that excellent expertise in one discipline is insufficient to answer even the questions from the discipline itself and to understand one's own findings, thus continuous discourse is necessary. Such discourse must not only integrate research results but be open to modify research questions. Local knowledge was identified as a key ingredient suggesting that local knowledge holders must participate in this process on an equal footing.
The workshop also identified future steps to be undertaken in the research and practical implementation of rice ecosystem services. Among these is the preparation of a book summarising the multi-perspective characterisations of research sites. Integration of the research results along the line of thinking of the ecosystem service cascade, in the process modifying it to suit the cases was also pointed as key. Such integration was proposed to be published in multiple formats including as an extensive, comprehensive report, a series of papers providing a conceptual basis for the empirical findings, and multi-author papers on methodology lessons learnt. Field research experience was also pointed as a tool to further refine the ecosystem service concept for integrated service assessment and management.
LEGATO stands for 'Land-use intensity and Ecological Engineering - Assessment Tools for risks and Opportunities in irrigated rice based production systems'. The overall objective is the elaboration and testing of generally applicable principles within the frame of ecological engineering - an emerging discipline, concerned with design, monitoring and construction of ecosystems. LEGATO funded by the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research).
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg
PD Dr. Josef Settele