K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute
LEGATO stands for Land-use intensity and Ecological EnGineering – Assessment Tools for risks and Opportunities in Irrigated rice based production systems is a new project designed to investigate rice cropping systems’ landscapes and the socio-cultural perceptions of farmers in Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam. The 5-year 7.5 million euro project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) measure on “Sustainable land management”, began on 1st March 2011 and will end on 29th February 2016. In early May, a pre kick-off workshop was held in Halle, Germany and the kick-off meeting and workshop was officially launched on 14th June 2011, by the Director General of the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), the honorable Datuk Dr. Abdul Shukor Abdul Rahman. In his speech he welcomed the participation of German and IRRI scientists and the introduction of new concepts of biodiversity, ecosystem services and ecological engineering in developing sustainability in rice ecosystems. In his opening remarks, Dr. Bas Bouman, head of IRRI’s Crop and Environmental Sciences Division, spoke about how the deterioration of ecosystem services can lead to huge brown planthopper outbreaks, like what is happening in Thailand and Indonesia. The LEGATO project is coordinated by Professor Josef Settele of the UFZ Helmoholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Halle, Germany. News of the event is available in Bernama.
LEGATO plans to quantify the ecosystem functions and the services they generate in rice ecosystems in the three Asian countries and relate them to land use intensities, socio cultural and economic settings. Based on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) frameworks, the project will address the provisioning, regulating and cultural services of rice ecosystems. Valuation of ecosystem services will be conducted through monetary and non-monetary methods. LEGATO will also test and improve existing indicators for ecological functions and ecosystem services, develop guidelines for optimizing ecosystem services and analyze the potentials of ecological engineering techniques. More details are available in the LEGATO website and also accessible from “Links” in Ricehoppers.net.