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Environmental indicators to assist sustainable intensification practices in EspĂ­rito Santo, Brazil

IWRA World Water Congress 2017 - Cancun Mexico
6. Water and sustainable growth
Author(s): Barbara Moreto Fim
Edmilson Costa Teixeira

Barbara Moreto Fim
University of Brasilia
Edmilson Costa Teixeira
Federal University of Espirito Santo

Keyword(s): environmental indicators, sustainable intensification, water management, catchment, family farming
Article: Oral:


The importance of family-based agriculture to economic development, poverty reduction, inequalities minimization and food security promotion is acknowledged worldwide. In the last decades many world organizations have researched a way to provide steady agricultural production in agreement with environmental preservation. Directed to this goal, Sustainable Intensification proposes the use of new technology and adaptation of existing practices, with specific application to each case. In this sense, there was an increase in attempts to develop and identify indicators suitable to the diversity of agroenvironmental systems. The Brazilian Water Resources Policy exhorts that it is fundamental to recognize the public domain of water, its multiple uses and management at river basin scale. However, each sector prioritize its own interests, the standard government management is done at municipalities scale, and the Family-based Agriculture Policy is managed at property scale. Since those policies are not discussed together at a regular basis, water resources allocation to agricultural production has somewhat become a problem.

Therefore, the project aims to identify, analyse and select environmental indicators to assist Sustainable Intensification practices in Espírito Santo, Brazil, focusing on family farming, with potential to be measured and assessed at catchment scale, contributing to the conceptual model envisioned on the project "Participative governance and collaborative integrated management at catchment scale for sustainable intensification of smallholder family farming", in partnership with government secretaries, policy execution agencies and research institutions. Thus, the methodology used included scientific literature review, stakeholders interviews and workshops to promote the discussion of family farming sustainability assessment and catchment's aspects evaluation.

There were indicators proposed with potential application at short term, such as Soil agricultural aptitude, Natural soil's vulnerability to erosion, Susceptibility to extreme events, Forest cover, Recovery of riparian areas and Rain distribution; and at medium term, such as Water quality, Superficial water availability, Area in degradation stage, Conservation of internal and external roads, Adoption of soil conservation practices, Integrated crop livestock forest areas, Fertilizers usage, Agrochemicals (pesticides) usage and Water usage.

Ultimately, it can be highlighted that the process of elaborating and proposing indicators os not only a technical issued, it is also a political process, in which the conflicting priorities of embracing every opinion to achieve sustainable development must be weighted, assessed and discussed. Though this project achieved an important step in this direction, being able to bring stakeholders together and adress the issue, to fully solve the problem there are still a long road ahead of research and political efforts.

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