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Optimizing agri-environment schemes for biodiversity, ecosystem services or both?
- Ekroos, Johan, Olsson, Ola, Rundlöf, Maj, Wätzold, Frank, Smith, Henrik G.
- Biological conservation 2014 v.172 pp. 65-71
- agricultural land, biodiversity, ecosystem services, habitats, intensive farming, models, natural resources conservation, sustainable agriculture, Europe
- Agri-environment schemes (AES) have been introduced to mitigate negative environmental effects caused by increased agricultural intensification in Europe. However, there is still debate on whether currently available incentives are efficiently enhancing farmland biodiversity. Moreover, agri-environment schemes often lead to a yield reduction, which has been argued to potentially increase pressure on non-cropped habitats, with unintended negative environmental consequences. Here, we argue that AES should build on more explicit goals regarding (1) biodiversity protection as such and (2) provisioning of ecosystem services benefiting agricultural production. We discuss how this can be achieved by an efficient spatial allocation of AES measures to the benefit of biodiversity, ecosystem service providers and agricultural production. We differentiate between biodiversity conservation schemes, which target species of conservation concern, and ecosystem service schemes which explicitly target ecosystem service providers important for environmentally sustainable agriculture, most of which are common species. We construct a simplistic, conceptual model, based on well-founded ecological principles, to illustrate how to allocate biodiversity conservation schemes and ecosystem service schemes spatially, depending on where they are needed in order to meet the goals of protecting biodiversity per se and promoting environmentally sustainable agriculture. By understanding the functional importance of different types of AES we can achieve much more effective schemes in the future.