Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC)

UGM Calls Papers for First Int’l Grad Student Conference on Indonesia

Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) is inviting papers for the “First International Graduate Student Conference on Indonesia” to be held on 1-4 December 2009.

To be held bilingually, the conference will be on the theme “(Re)Considering Contemporary Indonesia: Striving for Democracy, Sustainability, and Prosperity, A Multidisciplinary Perspective.”

Organized by the UGM Graduate School and the Academy of Professorship Indonesia in Social Sciences and Humanities (KNAW-AIPI), the conference will be held in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of UGM.

Moreover, collaborators for the conference include University of Sydney, Australia; Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore; Department of Anthropology, Religion and Culture, Boston University, USA; Center of Southeast Asia Studies, Jackson School, University of Washington, USA; Sociology and Anthropology of Contemporary Indonesia, Leiden University, The Netherlands; Utrecht University, The Netherlands; Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan; University of Indonesia, Indonesia; University of North Sumatra, Indonesia; and Hasanuddin University, Indonesia.

The conference targets graduate students currently conducting research on contemporary issues of Indonesia. Papers may be on any of the various aspects of people’s lives related to the conference theme, including topics on history, philosophy, law/legal aspect, social dimension, culture, language, literature, religion/beliefs, environment, politics, democracy/human rights, education, economics, management, agriculture, health, international relations, media studies, arts, and gender issues, among others.

The deadline of submission of abstracts (350 words) is 29 February 2009, while the deadline of submission of full papers (6,000 words) is 30 October 2009.

Panels will later be organized according to themes/issues of abstracts/papers received from students.

UGM welcomes any proposal to organize panel on a particular theme with its panel coordinators composed of scholars, a number of students’ abstracts under the same theme, and discussants for each session in the panel. 

The Steering Committee will review both the individual abstracts and the proposed panels. 

The best papers will be selected from each panel and considered for publication. Abstracts and inquiries may be sent to the Organizing Committee: Andy Wahyu Widayat:igsc.indo1_at_gmail; and Siti N. Hidayah, M. Endy Saputro and Esti Anantasari: figcindonesia_at_gmail.com.

Other information and the form for abstracts may be downloaded from  http://www.api.pasca.ugm.ac.id. (LLDDomingo, with report from UGM)

UQ Study Shows Governments need more Honest Environmental Accounting

Research at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia is paving the way for better management of the natural environment.

Researchers from UQ’s Ecology Centre and collaborators published in Science their findings that it is only with honest reporting of both the positive and negative outcomes of conservation policy can there be hope of properly managing dwindling environmental resources.

Dr. Eve McDonald-Madden, a postdoctoral researcher at the UQ Centre for Applied Environmental Decision Analysis and the study’s lead author, said without rigorous and transparent accounting, it is impossible to manage the environment.

“Given the increasing public awareness of conservation issues and the need for ongoing investment in environmental management, it is worrying that little attention has been given to deriving rigorous metrics for reporting on conservation investments,” Dr. McDonald-Madden said.

Reporting both gains and losses is a basic requirement of “honest” conservation accounting. The current global standard of reporting gains but not losses is unjustified and potentially misleading.

Professor Hugh Possingham, Director of an Australian government-funded Commonwealth environmental research facility on environmental decision-making and co-author of the study, said the field of biodiversity conservation is hampered by weak performance measurement.

“In the corporate world such weak reporting would be considered bad practice,” Professor Possingham said.

The researchers used a case study of land clearing in Queensland from 1997 to 2003 and found that with traditional reporting methods, the conservation gains would appear to be small but positive.

When metrics are used that account for both loss and reservation, they tell a markedly different story,” Professor Possingham said.

They reveal that overall in that period Queensland lost habitats far faster than they were being conserved. Hopefully changes to land clearing laws and a government commitment to expanding the reserve system will show better performance in the next period.

Dr. McDonald-Madden said honest metrics of conservation achievements are essential to inform conservation shareholders—that is, the public—about the performance of their investments.

“In failing to mention the losses and opportunity costs of conservation investments, agencies reporting on conservation achievements are disclosing revenue rather than net profit, and are being economical with the truth,” Dr. McDonald-Madden said.

An auditor from the financial sector would be appalled. Governments around Australia, and all over the world, need to get their environmental accounts cleaned up.

Improving Agricultural Productivity while Conserving Biodiversity

Professors from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada and Stanford University, USA have recently published the world’s first planning framework that calculates the production and conservation benefits of investments in farmland. They are Dr. Kai Chan, Assistant Professor at Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, UBC and Dr. Gretchen Daily, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University.

The framework identifies how the components of a landscape, such as a field and vegetation types, contribute to individual species. It then analyzes the species’ survival chances based on its need for habitat types and the distribution of habitats across the landscape. Then it predicts how changes in habitat will affect individual species and the total richness of species.

A Canada Research Chair in Biodiversity in Ecosystems Services, Dr. Chan said biodiversity is a tremendous store of natural capital and we have moral duties to protect it.

Dr. Chan has recently tested the framework to create a business case for farmers of Costa Rica to invest in a series of windbreaks that are protecting bird habitats and improving agricultural productivity.

Biodiversity in Costa Rica, as in many places in Latin America, has been ravaged by logging and agriculture industries.

Dr. Chan and his colleagues used the framework to identify windbreaks as way to improve productivity of cattle and crops and to help protect 17 species of birds, including many that migrate from the U.S. and Canada.

According to Dr. Chan, cattle, bananas and coffee were under stress from high winds and underperforming, so there was a clear economic argument for investing in wind barriers. He and his colleagues investigated how different wind barriers would impact biodiversity. They determined that by planting a mix of native trees, shrubs and other plants they could not only shelter the farm from wind for less than the cost of a wood fence, but also provide an important habitat for these birds.

The results of his work with farmers were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Chan said most people do not realize that small, targeted changes to farms can have a positive impact on biodiversity without affecting their bottom line. He said the people who structure farm payment schemes and subsidy policies are in dire need of tools to help them make those complex decisions. (LLDD, with report from UBC Reports, Vol. 55, No. 2)

UQ Gatton Gears Up for New Researches in 2009

After hosting the 21st University Consortium Executive Board Meeting, the University of Queensland Gatton campus looks forward to new collaborative research projects and student exchanges with other Consortium member universities in 2009. 

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SEARCA Director Speaks at the 6th AC-UPSE Economic Forum

SEARCA Director Arsenio M. Balisacan served as lecturer during the 6th Ayala Corporation-University of the Philippines School of Economics (AC-UPSE) Economic Forum held July 10, 2009 at the UPSE Auditorium.

Titled "Pathways out of Rural Poverty: Is Agrarian Reform Passé?", the lecture primarily focused on agrarian reform programs, particularly land redistribution, land tenure, and restrictions on land transactions, which have been a popular response to persistent poverty in rural areas. This response draws in part from a flawed understanding of income dynamics and poverty reduction in rural areas. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) has blunted initiatives, stifling productivity and rural income growth. Getting the expanded CARP to help pave pathways out of rural poverty poses a key implementation challenge

Dr. Cielito F. Habito, Ateneo Center for Economic Research & Development (ACERD) Director and Prof. Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Dean and Professor of Law, UP College of Law served as discussants.

The AC-UPSE Economic Forum is a joint quarterly activity of AC and UPSE which aims to disseminate to the larger public the results of recent research at the UPSE and foster dialogue among policy makers, the private sector, and the academe on current issues confronting the nation. The 7th AC-UPSE Economic Forum is scheduled in October 2009.

Download Dr. Balisacan's full presentation.

Download Dr. Habito's comments from http://www.econ.upd.edu.ph.

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