Analysing how drivers of agricultural land abandonment affect biodiversity and cultural landscapes using case studies from Scandinavia, Iberia and Oceania
2014 (English)In: Land use policy, ISSN 0264-8377, Vol. 36, 60-72 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Agricultural land abandonment (ALA) is widespread in many countries of the global north. It impacts rural communities, traditional landscapes, biodiversity and ecosystem services. It is an opportunity for ecosystem restoration or new landscape functions. We explored ALA in study areas in Australia, Portugal and Sweden. In each, we assessed plant species diversity, historical trajectories of land cover change; and the socioeconomic past, present and future in interviews with farmers. The ALA data was integrated and analysed by identifying the drivers of change. The relative importance of each driver and its scale of action was estimated, both in the past (1950-2010) and in the future (2010-2030). ALA has transformed rural landscapes in the study areas of Portugal and Sweden. It is at a much earlier stage with potential to increase in the Australian case. We identified a set of driving forces, classified into pressures, frictions and attractors that clarify why ALA, noting its temporal and spatial scale, occurs differently in each study area. The effect of the drivers is related to social and historical contexts. Pressures and attractors encouraging agricultural abandonment are strongest in Portugal and Sweden. Generally more (institutionalized) frictions are in place in these European sites, intended to prevent further change, based on the benefits assumed for biodiversity and aesthetics. In Australia, the stimulation of driving forces to promote a well-managed abandonment of some cleared areas could be highly beneficial for biodiversity, minimally disruptive for current dairy farming operations and would bring opportunities for alternative types of rural development.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 36, 60-72 p.
Agricultural policy, Farming, Interdisciplinary, Land management, Land use change, Social drivers
Environmental Sciences Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-100873DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2013.07.003ISI: 000329881400006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-100873DiVA: diva2:697489