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LEGATO -- a major international project on sustainable development of rice ecosystems in Southeast Asia

An international consortium of 22 research institutions from Germany, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, the UK, Bulgaria and Spain has started the new research project called LEGATO, which will be launched on June 14, 2011, in Penang, Malaysia.

LEGATO stands for 'Land-use intensity and Ecological Engineering Assessment Tools for risks and Opportunities in irrigated rice based production systems' and aims to advance long-term sustainable development of irrigated rice fields, against risks arising from multiple aspects of global change. The overall objective is the elaboration and testing of generally applicable principles within the frame of ecological engineering an emerging discipline, concerned with design, monitoring and construction of ecosystems. Ecological engineering aims at developing strategies to maximize the ecosystem services through exploiting natural regulation mechanisms instead of suppressing them.

The project plans to quantify the dependence of ecosystem functions and the services they generate in agricultural systems in three countries in Southeast Asia: Malaysia (Muda Irrigation Scheme), Vietnam (Mekong Delta in the South and the Red River Valley along a transect from Sapa to Hanoi) and The Philippines (along a transect from Northern to Central Luzon). Apart from ecological and economic aspects, the work also has an important cultural component as there are long-standing human traditions in relation to rice cultivation with a wealth of traditional knowledge which are expected to be of core importance for the service provision assessments.

Josef Settele of the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Germany, is the project coordinator and will be leading a team of more than 60 ecologists, social scientists, engineers, and agronomists. The project has been granted total funding under the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) research programme "Sustainable Land Management" to the tune of 7.5 million. It will run from March 2011 to February 2016.

The project launch will take place at the start of the LEGATO kick-off meeting on Tuesday, the 14th of June 2011, 10:00 a.m., at Vistana Hotel, Georgetown, Penang Malaysia under the responsibility of the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI, Malaysia), The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, the Philippines), CABI Southeast & East Asia (Malaysia) and the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ, Germany).


Contact: Tilo Arnhold
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

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