Farmland biodiversity is an important component of Europe’s biodiversity. More than half the continent is occupied by agricultural lands. They host specific habitats and species, which – in
addition to their conservation values they provide – perform vital ecological functions.
Indicators are needed to enable the monitoring of biodiversity at the farm level for the
purpose of assessing the impacts of farming practices and of agricultural policies. Our
research aims at identifying farmland biodiversity indicators which are scientifically sound,
operational and relevant for stakeholders.
We screened the literature for farmland biodiversity indicators and, in an iterative process
with stakeholders, we identified 28 candidate indicators for genetic, species and habitat
diversity. Those selected biodiversity indicators, as well as 14 management indicators that are
known to relate to biodiversity, were assessed in 12 case study regions across Europe. Each
case study region represents a typical production system (i.e. specialist field crops,
horticulture and permanent crops; specialist grazing with cattle and other livestock types;
mixed crop and livestock farming). In each region, 8 – 20 farms were randomly selected,
mostly within the two groups of organic and non-organic farms, to obtain a gradient of
farming intensity. Indicators were measured applying standardized sampling procedures and
farm interviews. Sampling effort was recorded in order to assess the cost of indicator measurement.
For each case study region, biodiversity indicators are presently being evaluated in
conjunction with management indicators. Surrogate indicators will be proposed when possible and
indicators will be prioritized taking into account their validity, practicality, cost and priority
for stakeholders. Based on preliminary results, the presentation will focus on the specific
challenges of farm level monitoring, addressing issues of sampling design within the farms and
up-scaling from plot to farm to region.
|Conference||The 8th World Congress of the International Association for Landscape Ecology, Beijing, China, 18 - 23 August, 2011|
|Period||18/08/11 → 23/08/11|