Understanding coffee farmers: using games to explore future coffee agroforestry landscapes in the Western Ghats (India).
Deforestation and biodiversity loss in agroecosystems are generally the result of rational choices, not of a lack of awareness or knowledge. Despite both scientific evidence and traditional knowledge that supports the value of diverse production systems for ecosystem services and resilience, a trend of agroecosystem intensification is apparent across tropical regions. These transitions happen in spite of policies that prohibit such transformations. We present a participatory modelling study run (1) to understand the drivers of landscape transition and (2) to explore the livelihood and environmental impacts of tenure changes in the coffee agroforestry systems of Kodagu (India). The components of the system, key actors and resources, and their interactions were defined with stakeholders, following the companion modelling (ComMod) approach. The underlying ecological processes driving the system were validated through expert knowledge and scientific literature. The conceptual model was transformed into a Role Playing Game and validated by 8 workshops with 57 participants. Two scenarios were explored, a No Policy Change as baseline, and a Restitution of Rights where rights to cut the native trees are handed over to farmers. Our results suggest the landscape transition is likely to continue unabated unless there is a change to the current policy framework. However, the Restitution of tree Rights risks speeding up the process rather than reversing it, as slow variables such the differential growth rate between exotic and native tree species kick in.Open preprint
This article is a preprint and has not been peer reviewed