Sustainable Agriculture: Building Social-Ecological Resilience

Authored by: Mohammad Naser Reyhani , Saeid Eslamian , Alireza Davari

Handbook of Drought and Water Scarcity

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781498731041
eBook ISBN: 9781315226781
Adobe ISBN:


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Water is essential for all socioeconomic development activities and for maintaining healthy ecosystems. The demand for water has grown significantly over the last 50 years not only because of population growth but also because of an increase in the water use for households, agriculture, and industrial production. Agriculture is the most important user of environmental resources, including water, forests, pastures, and nutrients, and its sustainability depends upon their availability. Resilience thinking may provide a promising new approach toward sustainability because it gives options to learn our way to sustainability. While sustainability of agricultural systems can improve economic and social well-being, water scarcity has a negative impact on this process. Even though water scarcity may threaten agricultural sustainability, there is also evidence that shows agrarian societies can overcome the limitations of water shortage through social-ecological resilience. Indeed, managing for resilience enhances the likelihood of sustainability of agriculture in changing environments and where water scarcity has occurred. Water scarcity has undesirable influences on social and ecological dimensions of sustainable agriculture. A response to vulnerability under water scarcity is resilience. A resilient system, up to a point, can withstand water scarcity through learning, coping, and adapting, thus conserving its function and structure.

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