Inderscience Publishers

Understanding the role of disturbance in peri-urban agricultural systems and communities: new concepts and principles to guide strategic intervention

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New conceptualisations of peri-urban zones are needed to trigger a deeper understanding within professionals and practitioners of appropriate intervention strategies that build the resilience of sustainable agriculture and food production within peri-urban communities. This paper posits a theoretical construction of the peri-urban zone, derived from applying a biomimicry framework. Biomimicry is the analysis of processes in natural systems to derive design principles for human systems. Insights are derived from mimicking two natural ecosystem types on Australia?s Sunshine Coast using the theoretical constructs of Chaos theory and patch dynamics to characterise peri-urban zones. This mimicry of dynamic complex ecosystems suggests the peri-urban zone be characterised as a spatially and temporally patchy community which is ?disturbance dominated?. The framework suggests the challenge for designing successional pathways for agriculture in peri-urban zones requires interventions based on five dynamic principles which explain not just natural system behaviour, but also characterise socio-economic processes.

Keywords: peri-urban communities, biomimicry, policy, extension, sustainability, complex systems, chaos theory, patch dynamics, sustainable development, intervention strategies, sustainable agriculture, food production, Australia, disturbance, natural systems, socio-economic processes

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