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Challenges and prospects in connectivity analysis in agricultural systems: Actions to implement policies on land management and carbon storage at EU level

Fernández-Getino, A.P., Alonso-Prados, J.L., Santín-Montanyá, M.I.
Land use policy 2018 v.71 pp. 146-159
European Union, agricultural industry, agricultural land, agroecosystems, biodiversity, carbon, carbon sequestration, climate change, crop yield, databases, emissions, farmers, habitat destruction, issues and policy, land management, monitoring, risk, soil, temporal variation
There is an increasing interest in climate change mitigation agricultural activities and the effects on carbon (C) sinks. It is essential to study, propose and implement agricultural practices to protect the environment and increase crop yields, whilst at the same time aiming to reduce agricultural emissions and increase C sequestration. Further study of these aspects is important in order to identify the best land management practices and policies to protect the environment. So with this objective in mind, the study of connectivity is an opportunity to gain insight into the sustainability of agroecosystems, due to the close relationship among connectivity, biodiversity and C storage. In fact, high connectivity values can be associated with healthy ecosystems and high levels of biodiversity, which can assure better soil protection and can favor sustainability, implying a greater soil C sequestration capacity.The measure of connectivity’s temporal variation using analysis of current connectivity (inter- and intra-compartments) and the development of risk and vulnerability maps are key facts to, on one side, identify areas most prone to habitat degradation and fragmentation, and then, on another side to establish priorities. This proposed analysis must be carried out by sectors and in a stratified way. For it, “Sector agricultural connectivity units” are proposed as a dimensionless measuring concept to implement this assessment.To establish agricultural land management schemes and programs for policy intervention at European level in order to guide the strategy to address environmental issues in the agricultural sector, we propose a set of lines of action focused mainly on three aspects: the development of National Action Plans, the establishment of Monitoring Programs, and the integration of their outcomes with the information from available databases through Big Data treatments and other analysis tools. Furthermore, to achieve this goal, the role of farmers can not be underestimated and the communication problems between farmers and scientists should be solved.