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Global Agri-climatic hotspots: Overview

Overview | Hotspots archive |

The first concrete action to be taken in setting up a hotspots activity is to decide on an operational definition of hotspots, and then to define it more specifically in the context of the adverse interactions between agricultural activities and environmental processes.

It will be necessary to distinguish hotspots from flashpoints, critical zones (or areas of concern (AOCs)), and areas where land is transformed as a result of agriculture-related activities. It is important to keep in mind the fact that not every interaction between agriculture and the environment is a negative, zero-sum interaction, where either the environment or agriculture wins and the other loses. For example, mixing agriculture and forested areas could be beneficial for both agriculture and the environment. Mixing livestock rearing and cultivation has also proven to be beneficial to both activities, as well as to the environmental setting in which they are taking place.

The overriding objective of a hotspots focus is to avoid creating them where they do not yet exist. A hotspot of environmental change (such as degradation) encompasses only a portion of a continuum of the full range of environmental changes.

While the hotspots portion of that continuum is the one that usually captures the attention of the media and policy-makers, in fact it is the portion of the process of change that precedes hotspots - the AOCs - that deserves more attention. Intervention in a potentially emerging hotspot can provide the most timely and least costly response to environmental problems.

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