A Transformative (r)Evolution of the Research on Agriculture through Fostering Human-Nature Connectedness—A Special Issue Editorial

Año Publicación:  2022
Responsable: J. L. Vicente-Vicente et al.
Journal, Volumen y páginas:
Special Issue "Reconnecting People with Nature through Agriculture"


J. L. Vicente-Vicente, C. Quintas-Soriano & M. D. López-Rodríguez


More and more people live in cities. In recent decades, this, combined with rural abandonment, has resulted in increased land ownership concentration and land grabbing [1,2,3,4], with an increase in agricultural intensification [5,6]. This process is leading to an increasingly polarized landscape between abandonment of traditional farming activities and highly intensive agriculture lands. Rural land abandonment is motivated mainly by socio-cultural factors, such as population aging and migration patterns from rural to urban areas [7]. Land abandonment has been described as a complex process with implications at ecological and socio-cultural levels [8]. Primarily, it can support ecological restoration, increase carbon storage or improve habitat quality. However, at social and cultural levels, it can endanger local ecological knowledge, cultural heritage, local identity and can negatively impact rural livelihoods through the loss of agricultural and forest products. On the other hand, highly intense agricultural farming systems are formed by large monocrops, which are extremely simplified systems, very often combined with the application of high rates of pesticides, the plantation of genetically modified species, and the removal of all kinds of wild biological diversity. A similar process has been observed in terms of livestock, with an increase in intensification in farming systems and the appearance of highly intense facilities (i.e., factory farms) [9], to the detriment of the extensive farming systems, which are less economically profitable but have a stronger link to the territory and integration within the available natural resources [10]. This has resulted in trade-offs with different ecosystem services [5,11,12,13,14] due to the prioritization of provisioning services (such as food) at the detriment of other supporting, regulating and cultural services. In addition, agricultural intensification is currently threatening the maintenance of traditional indigenous and peasant farming, whose practices have been proven to be beneficial for building up resilient agroecosystems that sustain both ecosystems and societal well-being [15]. This has led, ultimately, to the loss of the connection of people with nature [16,17]. The loss of human–nature connectedness in Western and urbanized societies has one of its paradigmatic examples in the commodification of food, which takes place in a context of an increasingly complex [18,19] and highly vulnerable [20,21,22] globalized food system. Therefore, it is clear that a transformation of the agri-food system is urgently needed [23]. In this SI, we have collected eleven studies assessing, using a diversity of approaches, how human–nature connectedness can be recovered through agriculture. Many of them are focused on the application of a systemic approach, by considering a set of sustainable agricultural practices, whereas some are focused on studying what management practices can be applied in agricultural systems in order to reconnect people with nature. One article addresses principles of good governance to create inclusive and integrative processes that support healthy communities and resilient ecosystems, whereas another one is focused on the consumer’s side in order to foster societal transformation.

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