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Land use efficiency through analysis of agrological capacity and ecosystem services in an industrialized region (Biscay, Spain)

Onaindia, Miren, Peña, Lorena, de Manuel, Beatriz Fernández, Rodríguez-Loinaz, Gloria, Madariaga, Iosu, Palacios-Agúndez, Igone, Ametzaga-Arregi, Ibone
Land use policy 2018 v.78 pp. 650-661
aesthetic value, carbon sequestration, cropland, ecosystem services, food production, food security, forest plantations, grasslands, habitats, industrialization, land use, landscapes, natural resources conservation, pollination, soil, sustainable land management, Iberian Peninsula, Spain
New solutions are necessary for the reconciliation of food production and environmental conservation. This study focuses on determining the synergies and trade-offs between agrological capacity and ecosystem services (ES) in an industrialized region in northern Iberian Peninsula in order to improve an efficient use of soils. The methodology provided here allows the mapping of the best areas for equilibrating both agrological capacity and provision of ES. We specifically determine the most suitable areas to develop new agricultural activities with the greatest efficacy. Results highlight the synergies between agrological capacity, habitat maintenance, pollination, and aesthetic values. Moreover, the creation of new grasslands and croplands in productive soils occupied by forest plantations would enhance agriculture, some ES, and landscape multi-functionality. However, decreasing the area of forest plantations in favour of agricultural lands would create trade-offs with carbon storage. These trade-offs could be relativized if actual environmental and economical situations are taken into account. Based on the results obtained applying the proposed methodology, policy-makers have the opportunity to manage a transition towards more sustainable land use through specific actions while increasing local food security.