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Farmland abandonment: Threat or opportunity for biodiversity conservation? A global review
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. University of Lisbon, Portugal.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
2014 (English)In: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, ISSN 1540-9295, E-ISSN 1540-9309, Vol. 12, no 5, 288-296 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Farmland abandonment is changing rural landscapes worldwide, but its impacts on biodiversity are still being debated in the scientific literature. While some researchers see it as a threat to biodiversity, others view it as an opportunity for habitat regeneration. We reviewed 276 published studies describing various effects of farmland abandonment on biodiversity and found that a study's geographic region, selected metrics, assessed taxa, and conservation focus significantly affected how those impacts were reported. Countries in Eurasia and the New World reported mainly negative and positive effects of farmland abandonment on biodiversity, respectively. Notably, contrasting impacts were recorded in different agricultural regions of the world that were otherwise similar in land-use and biodiversity characteristics. We showed that the conservation focus (pre- or post-abandonment) in different regions is an important factor influencing how scientists address the abandonment issue, and this may affect how land-use policies are defined in agricultural landscapes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 12, no 5, 288-296 p.
Keyword [en]
Farmland abandonment; biodiversity; conservation views; agriculture; meta-analysis
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89418DOI: 10.1890/120348ISI: 000336940100016OAI: diva2:617864
Available from: 2013-04-24 Created: 2013-04-24 Last updated: 2014-10-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Managing for biodiversity and ecosystem services in a context of farmland abandonment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing for biodiversity and ecosystem services in a context of farmland abandonment
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In agricultural landscapes around the world, intensification of production and land abandonment are the two main trends impacting biodiversity and ecosystem services. Intensified agriculture is mostly seen as negative for biodiversity but effects of abandonment are controversial among scientists and practitioners. While abandonment can be detrimental to biodiversity in non-intensive farming systems, it can also provide an opportunity for regeneration of natural habitats. This thesis examines effects of different management options on biodiversity along an abandonment gradient from farmland to forest. It combines insights from a local case study in NW Portugal with an inter-regional meta-analysis on the effects of land-use change on response diversity, and a global meta-analysis on how impacts of abandonment on biodiversity are reported in scientific studies. Effects of abandonment were assessed for species richness and functional diversity for multiple taxa, and for the provision of multiple ecosystem services.

At the global scale, abandonment impacts on biodiversity were reported in contrasting ways across world regions, and this was influenced by conservation views focused on pre vs. post abandonment conditions. In the study area, intermediate farming intensity, compared to abandoned forest habitats, generated higher plant richness at small scales and when post-abandonment forest was highly fragmented. In contrast, at larger scales, both farmland and forest had high species and functional diversity of plants and birds, while moths were more diverse in forests. All land uses provided multiple ecosystem services, but while provisioning services were highest in farmland, forests benefited regulating services, a difference not reflected in species richness distribution. In contrast to current European policies, abandonment was not found to be disadvantageous to biodiversity, except for species richness at very small scales. Thus, both farming and post-abandonment succession can generate high value ecosystems. In order to sustainably manage abandoned lands, farmland abandonment needs to be analyzed in a broader perspective, combining different types of indicators, from species to ecosystem services, and avoiding pre-conceived ideas on conservation, not always beneficial to the sustainable management of these landscapes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 2013. 54 p.
farmland abandonment; agriculture; biodiversity; species richness; functional diversity; ecosystem services; forest regeneration; conservation views; response diversity
National Category
Ecology Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89447 (URN)978-91-7447-700-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-05-31, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Mansucript. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-05-08 Created: 2013-04-25 Last updated: 2014-10-16Bibliographically approved

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Queiroz, CibeleFolke, CarlLindborg, Regina
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