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Trees are all around us: Farmers’ management of wood pastures in the light of a controversial policy
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1703-0145
2018 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Management, ISSN 0301-4797, E-ISSN 1095-8630, Vol. 212, p. 228-235Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Wood pastures are some of the most species-rich environments found in Europe and therefore essential habitats for biodiversity conservation. Society also puts faith in multiple values of trees, ranging from climate change mitigation to socio-cultural traditions. Therefore, the seemingly arbitrary tree density limit for pasture environments imposed by the EU through its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) threatened both biological and societal values. In this study on farmers' perspectives, we target the effects of the CAP tree density limit on management of wood pastures in a low-intensively managed agricultural landscape of southern Sweden. The case of simplifying nature by using simple number limitations was used as an entry point in semi-structured, open-ended, interviews with farmers and officials about their view on trees and pasture management in relation to policy directives. The interviews showed that the policy incentive shifted the management focus from grazing quality to the number of trees and that farmers are willing to cut in order to get subsidies and timber revenues, however not unreflectingly. Farmers had high knowledge about the wide ranging social, cultural and natural values of trees, and are often themselves as good regulators of tree management as policies intend to be. Our study reveals many difficulties in managing the complex relations within landscapes with simplified legal measures, opening up for further discussion about improving policy instruments to preserve both social and biological values of wood pastures. However, although the tree density limit has been criticised on many points related to biodiversity conservation, this study shows that other values linked to pasture trees, e.g. the aesthetic values and their importance as shelter for grazing animals, could be an argument to actually keep the focus on trees as indicators of pasture management quality. We suggest that trees in general and wood-pastures in particular therefore are good starting points, or boundary-objects, for collaboration between production and conservation interests of farming and environmental management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 212, p. 228-235
Keywords [en]
Policy, European Union, Decision-making, Relational values, Trees
National Category
Physical Geography
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-154340DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.02.004ISI: 000428097500025OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-154340DiVA, id: diva2:1192923
Available from: 2018-03-23 Created: 2018-03-23 Last updated: 2018-04-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Wooded or treeless pastures?: Linking policy, farmers' decisions and biodiversity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Wooded or treeless pastures?: Linking policy, farmers' decisions and biodiversity
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Worldwide, biodiversity conservation is one of the key challenges for a sustainable future of nature and society. It is particularly important to preserve high quality habitats within otherwise intensively managed agricultural landscapes. Within the European Union (EU), farmers are highly dependent on agricultural subsidies through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which hence have a strong influence on management and biodiversity. In European agricultural landscapes, wooded pastures form important habitats that contribute to landscape level heterogeneity and high local biodiversity, values which are often closely linked to trees. Unfortunately, many of these values were put at risk when a tree density limitation was introduced within the CAP, encouraging farmers to keep pastures open and ensuring grazing management. However, limiting tree density to a specific number to increase biodiversity finds little basis in the scientific literature. The main objective of this thesis is therefore to investigate how different measures of biodiversity across multiple taxa are affected by tree density and to study the farmers' perspective on this CAP regulation. Wooded pastures in the biosphere reserve Östra Vätterbranterna in southern Sweden were used as study sites. This thesis shows that encouraging farmers to cut trees to receive subsidies weakens the link between social and ecological values of wooded pastures, with potential subsequent losses in biodiversity. Trees were almost exclusively positive for biodiversity within this study system, increasing the species richness of plants, birds and bats. However, functional diversity across these taxa were mainly affected by other vegetation attributes within and around the pastures, such as shrub density and surrounding forest cover. A seed sowing experiment showed how trees partly shape plant communities already at the germination stage. Further, responses of functional diversity was mainly driven by resource use related traits among plants and birds, whereas bat functional diversity responses were mainly determined by their ability to manoeuvre through the micro-habitats of wooded pastures. Based on this thesis, I conclude that the tree density limit proposed by the EU has failed to capture the unique biological values of continuously managed wooded pastures and that the social-ecological links between policy, management and biodiversity are threatened by number specific governance of nature. It is therefore promising that the EU in November 2017 announced to open up for excluding the tree density focus in the CAP. Further development of the CAP can benefit from the findings of this thesis, revealing important knowledge gaps on biodiversity patterns in relation to trees in pastures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, 2018. p. 53
Series
Dissertations from the Department of Physical Geography, ISSN 1653-7211 ; 71
Keywords
bat, biodiversity, bird, canopy cover, Common Agricultural Policy, European Union, farmer, functional diversity, germination, grassland, multi-taxa, pasture, plant, policy, seed sowing, tree density, trees
National Category
Physical Geography
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-154373 (URN)978-91-7797-161-0 (ISBN)978-91-7797-162-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-05-25, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2011-977
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2018-05-02 Created: 2018-03-26 Last updated: 2018-04-16Bibliographically approved

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