Journal of Environmental Management. 317, pp. 115.
Autores/as: Angela Lomba; Javier Ferreiro da Costa; Pablo Ramil Rego; Eduardo Corbelle Rico
Agriculture is a major driver of change with manifold impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. As social-ecological systems, agricultural landscapes result from the intertwined interaction between farmers and nature, and contribute to several ecosystem services key to human well-being. The social-ecological outcomes of farmlands ultimately reflect the management practices of the dominant farming systems (FS) at the landscape level. However, data-driven research linking agricultural management and biodiversity is still scarce, a knowledge gap limiting our understanding on the impacts of different farming systems on biodiversity at the landscape level.
This research contributes to fill this knowledge gap, by being among the few explicitly exploring the relationship between FS and patterns of biodiversity at the landscape level, using as illustrative case the region of Galicia, northwest Spain. Using data from agricultural policies paying agencies, and protected species and habitats data, the following research questions were pursued: (1) Can farm-level data be used to map and characterize different FS at the landscape-level? and, (2) Is the occurrence of specific FS linked with higher levels of biodiversity?
Results allowed the identification and characterization of seven different FS distributed across Galicia, which dominance allowed to identify seven landscape types. Moreover, besides depicting the dominance of cattle-based farming systems in Galicia, results showed a gradient of management from the most intensive located in coastal lowlands (west) towards less intensive mountain areas (east). Such gradient of decreasing management intensity matched a gradient of increasing nature value of farmlands, reflected as higher habitat diversity and richness for some of the targeted taxonomic groups.
To our knowledge, this research is among the few explicitly addressing the relationship between FS and biodiversity at the landscape level. By highlighting potential links (positive or negative) between specific landscape types and habitats and/or species richness across targeted taxonomic groups, these results constitute a preliminary assessment of the agricultural practices promoting species and habitat richness. Further scrutinizing this assessment can support the identification of farm-level indicators that can be then translated into the design of policies (biodiversity or agriculture-related) fostering biodiversity at several scales of decision making.