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Biodiversity and ecosystem services in farmland

Farmland – edge of field.

Recent declines of farmland biodiversity, mainly caused by agricultural intensification, threaten cultural values of farmland and as well as ecosystem services underpinned by biodiversity. A major challenge is to meet growing demands for food and fibre, while halting and/or reversing biodiversity declines. Our research focuses on how to conserve farmland biodiversity as well as how biodiversity conservation contributes to ecosystem services. By increasing the use of ecosystem services benefitting agriculture, it may be possible to replace external inputs, such as inorganic fertilizers and pesticides, while maintaining or even increasing agricultural production. We use a variety of approaches – controlled experiments, landscape-ecological studies, modelling – to investigate consequences of farm management on biodiversity and ecosystem services such as pollination and biological control.

In a cross-disciplinary effort we investigate consequences of managing multiple interacting ecosystem services benefitting both farmers and society at large and study implications for the governance of agricultural landscapes. We develop approaches to compile different sources of evidence use them in ecological models that account for the uncertainty. A particular focus has been to evaluate the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), for example in the form of Agri-Environment Schemes (AES) that compensate farmers for environmentally friendly management. Using agent-based models, we investigate how agricultural policies affect farmers’ decisions concerning land-use and management. By combining these approaches in ecological-economic models, we evaluate alternative policy and management options (see also SAPES and MULTAGRI).

Within this subject, research is currently carried out in the following projects

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