Farms as Coupled Social-Ecological Systems

A relational understanding of farms as and adaptive social-ecological systems. University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.

A relational understanding of farms as and adaptive social-ecological systems



Family farms depend on the natural resources and on the communities in which they are embedded. Often, these interdependencies have been severed due to pressures from markets and regulations. These have undermined the autonomy of farmers, as the power to decide how food is produced (and thus agro-ecosystems managed) is increasingly being transferred to input manufacturers, processors, and large retailers. As a result, the farmers’ ability to creatively reorganize their resources, to adapt, and to transform has been curtailed, which undermines their resilience. By reconnecting with the local ecosystem and with local communities, as well as by critically rethinking traditions, farmers can strengthen both their own and their community’s resourcefulness and evolutionary resilience. This project will explore how well a relational perspective on farms allows to capture and analyse the processes that build resourcefulness and resilience. This shift in perspective allows to emphasize change, adaptability, and transformation, as well as the need to root entrepreneurial initiatives in locally available (social and natural) resources.

Expected Results

Transdisciplinary insight into how reconnecting with local social and natural resources can strengthen farm and community resilience; Assess the potential of visualisation methods to empower farmers and communities, encouraging adaptive processes.

Current member