Across Landscapes in a Changing World: Ancient and Present Pathways

Contributed by Edmond Dounias, Congress Coordinator

Bioversity International and the Research Group Mosaïque (Agrodiversity, agroecosystems and environment, domestication and innovations) of CNRS jointly organized this one-day workshop (May 19, 2012). The objective was to discuss the scope of working at the landscape level to understand crop domestication and diversification, taking into consideration three large groups of factors:

  • socio-historical diversity,
  • biophysical diversity at a landscape or territorial level, and
  • use and technical diversities.
  • Crop domestication and diversification have taken place within socio-historical and territorial contexts. Understanding the linkages between these two dimensions is a prerequisite to understanding the scope of transformations that crops are undergoing within a global context.

Indeed acceleration in market exchanges, socio-cultural transformations, rapid genetic transformations through interactions with genetically modified crops, will have and are already having a major impact on lore of traditional cultivars as well as food security and sovereignty throughout the world. Landscapes and local territories have represented and still represent today the result of coupled-human and biological interactions within which human societies have developed crop diversity.

Developing new sustainable, low input and environmentally friendly agricultural approaches need to take into account heterogeneity within and across landscapes as well as the large scope of knowledge already available by local societies which have contributed to shape agrodiversities through domestication and crop diversification. This diversity corresponds to biophysical diversity as well as to cultural and economic requirements and is now facing major changes.

Bioversity International has developed a series of case studies, which highly contributed to reflections on the subject of this workshop.

The “Mosaïque” research group comprises researchers (geneticists, ethnologists, archeobotanists, geographers, socio-economists) working both on ancient processes of crop domestication as well as on present day situations and on-going changes. Mosaïque contributed to this symposium through a series of case studies with examples from Vanuatu, Ethiopia, Morocco, France, Spain, Cameroon and aims at developing a common framework for understanding, socio- historical and biological approaches to crop diversification across landscapes.

Colleagues working on crop diversities at different landscape levels, from Kyoto University, the University of Nagoya, the University of Tetouan, the Natural Museum of Kenya, the Vanuatu Cultural Center, and the New York Botanical Gardens, were invited to participate. Partners from southern countries were also present.

The workshop on May 19, 2012, was a public meeting to which researchers from the diverse Montpellier research community were invited to participate. A closed-door meeting was held on May 20, 2012, with the members of the Mosaïque research group and the co-organizers.