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A South-South cooperation network:

integrated monitoring for land management in the Andes

The Socio-Ecological Systems of the Andes sustain the livelihoods of millions of people and are essential to conserve and maintain one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. In order to understand how they are integrated spatially, what essential factors characterize them and what their vulnerabilities are, it is crucial to monitor their current state on a long-term basis.

The Andean Network of Socio-ecological Observatories (ROSA) integrates existing long-term monitoring efforts in the Andes into a network of observatories and learning sites, in order to generate and share information in a coordinated and efficient manner, joining efforts to identify gaps, make integrated readings of social and ecological changes in the Andes, and link this knowledge to land management and decision-making.


What is a Socio-Ecological System?

It is an integrated system comprising social and ecological components, and the processes of interaction and feedback between them. It includes the physical and biotic environment, human actors, their institutions and governance structures, and the complex dynamics of their relationships.


Understanding these relationships is crucial for the sustainable management of the territory, the conservation of natural resources, and the well-being of the population.

What are monitoring sites?

They are both observatories, where a series of social and environmental variables are monitored, and learning sites, where multiple actors participate, and where monitoring is part of the adaptive management of the territory.


This way, it is hoped that monitoring can answer the questions that society asks about the Socio-Ecological System where it lives, and contribute to understanding how these questions change over time.

How does ROSA work?

Analysis within ROSA is perfomed at various scales: landscape, national, and regional/continental. And for each of them, the proposal is to focus on different types of variables:

  • ecological variables and indicators derived from field studies (such as changes in species composition and abundance, climate dynamics and flows, etc.) as well as socioeconomic variables (such as variables that allow us to understand human behavior regarding land use decisions).
  • regional indices, derived from remote sensing (such as land cover change)
  • national official censuses (for example, for socioeconomic variables)
  • information derived from existing global databases / regional analyzes (such as the Human Development Index, calculated by the United Nations Development Programme)

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Social impact on ecosystems

Social impact on ecosystems

ROSA's macro question is how socioeconomic trends that impact land uses have effects on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human well-being. From this macro question, other questions will arise from the different nodes: the learning sites and observatories that will be distributed in different areas of the Andean region.

Integrated and continental vision

Integrated and continental vision

The aim is to integrate social, environmental, economic and political components to the environmental and biophysical monitoring that is already being done in the region. On the one hand, to analyze the processes of change, social, economic, and land use, and on the other, to facilitate their effective integration into decision-making and land management. ROSA seeks a more continental view of climate processes and land use, one that can be translated into cohesive policies for the joint development of the Andean countries.

The importance of networking

The importance of networking

The Andes mountain range spans a large number of countries and diverse cultures, providing a multiplicity of biodiversity systems and ecosystem services to society. A regional analysis will allow to understand the factors that produce changes in society, and how they impact these ecosystem services and the Andean socio-ecological systems in general. A network makes it possible to go beyond the local scale, and at the same time, to take into account the heterogeneity that characterizes the Andes.

Medium and long-term monitoring

Medium and long-term monitoring

Long-term monitoring is a challenge because the results are not seen immediately, but it is essential since the impacts of climate change take time to be reflected in changes in vegetation, ecosystem processes, water regulation, or carbon accumulation, among other cycles. Medium- and long-term monitoring provides a broader view of the landscape and how it is affected by changes in land use or political and cultural processes in the territory. It is important to communicate the results, so that the different actors involved in land management see their usefulness, participate more actively, and can observe how changes resulting from climate change and land use are linked to changes in governance and political processes. All this requires time, and hence the importance of having learning sites.