Stabilisation Agriculture Programme

Stabilisation Agriculture Programme

Exploring regenerative agroecological relationships in fragile environments that support inclusive, responsive and peaceful human settlements.

Our Research

Our research contributes to an understanding of how diversified food and farming landscapes and livelihoods can reduce vulnerabilities to both natural hazards and human-induced disasters. We apply regenerative agroecological principles and practices in areas of political, social and ecological fragility. In this way, our research considers how to establish more resilient food and water systems, and strengthen relationships between people and the landscapes upon which they depend.

Our research demonstrates that agroecological practices are highly effective in absorbing the impacts of flooding and high winds, stabilising crop yields during periods of drought, enabling more rapid post-disaster recovery, and fostering social processes to improve adaptive capacity and social cohesion in divided societies. In both rural and urban environments, we apply a regenerative lens to disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.

Our Focus

The majority of people in fragile environments depend on farming livelihoods. Many are also affected by histories of violence, exclusion and structured poverty. This, alongside the deepening climate crisis, exacerbates vulnerabilities to both rapid- and slow-onset disasters, and is further compounded by the chronic erosion of locally- rooted knowledge systems. These factors combine to drive increasing numbers of people onto marginal lands and into ever-more precarious livelihoods, heightening their exposure to cycles of risk. Our work emphasises the role of human agency to collectively restore and sustain relationships for resource stabilisation, while exploring transformative approaches that address the underlying factors that hold poverty and marginalisation in place.

In relation to the pressing challenges that require more focus, we map, design, and evaluate applied systems related to:

  • Design and evaluation of regenerative systems: In recognition of the seasonal extremes and realities experienced by displaced people in refugee camps, our applied research also involves designing and/or retrofitting sustainable infrastructure for cost-effectiveness and minimal disruption. This includes, for example, the use of shelterbelts, sustainable drainage, and waste water systems and their management.

    Promoting agroecology for urban production: Even small gardens play an important role in providing nutritional supplements to basic humanitarian food aid packages, and a sense of dignity, continuity and place. Here we increasingly consider the therapeutic value of associated psycho-social processes as a response to traumas experienced.

    Regenerative livelihood opportunities: We investigate transitions from humanitarian relief to rehabilitation and development through regenerative processes for sustainable food production and livelihoods. These processes engage displaced people, host communities and ex-combatants in integrated resource-use design that reduces both social tensions and damage to the host environment.

  • Invasive plants, trees and insects place immense pressures on land use, and can cause tensions between different communities of resource users. Our applied research on the management of such natural stressors (biotic and abiotic) includes their adapted use as alternative sources of nutrition and livelihoods, such as charcoal production. Using participatory approaches, stressors are mapped, their associated risks are assessed, and approaches are co-developed on their utilisation, management or eradication.

  • This research area investigates entrenched patterns of social division and conflict, and the transformative potential of agroecology as a practice-based tool for peacebuilding. Here we consider the role of collaborative processes such as social farming, trading and collective resource management to enable equitable resilience and the re-forging of relationships based on solidarity, reciprocity and trust.

  • Here we investigate vulnerabilities to hazards and risk, and explores local knowledge, technologies and practices that have the potential to increase resilience to predicted increases in threat occurrence. Our applied research in landscape stabilisation supports the restoration of ecological resources at catchment level, while promoting multi-actor engagement for long-term planning and the co-management of natural resources for effective disaster risk reduction (DRR).

  • This area of our work investigates how food systems design enables urban and metropolitan areas to be more resilient to rapid-onset disasters (such as earthquakes, volcanoes and conflict) that threaten to cut off access to vital food and water supplies. Our research shows, for example, that resilient, local and low-impact food systems, unlike long supply chains, are more equitable and less vulnerable to disruption and crisis.

Stabilisation Agriculture Brochure cover
Stabilisation Agriculture Brochure

Exploring regenerative agroecological relationships in fragile environments that support inclusive, responsive and peacefulhuman settlement.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023