About this Research Topic
Agricultural intensification is a major cause of land and water degradation and of biodiversity decline in Europe. We face the challenge of maintaining farm production while conserving or enhancing other ecosystem services and biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. In May 2020, the European Commission announced the new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which is linked to the EU Green Deal that pursues a more sustainable economy for the region. This Strategy includes 14 major commitments, six of which are directly related to the farmland environment. One of those is that at least 10% of agricultural area is under high-diversity landscape features (HDLF).
HDLF typically are of small size as compared to productive agricultural land and, consequently, they hardly compete against production. Further, beyond biodiversity conservation and restoration, they contribute to regulate a number of processes that may enhance yield, such as water, sediment and nutrient retention, pollination, and pest control. Other relevant processes are carbon sequestration, which can aid to mitigate climate change and achieve the Paris Agreement, and landscape connectivity. There is a range of possibilities and intervention types around HDLF, such as woodland or tree islands, hedgerows, buffer strips, grass strips, ponds, shelters for specific fauna species, and even isolated trees. All of them have disproportionate high benefits for biodiversity and its functions, as it is being shown by growing scientific evidence. For instance, a well-developed network of hedgerows satisfies the FAO´s forest definition.
The major objective of this research topic is to provide an overview of the state of the art, advances and perspectives related to conservation and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the European agricultural landscapes by means of HDLF. It will present the results of both oriented research and applied projects related to the possibilities and limitations of achieving the desired Biodiversity Strategy aim for HDLF. It will include both ecology (biodiversity and its functions) and social aspects; particularly, the new Common Agricultural Policy that is being discussed and the financial sustainability are hot issues that will be addressed. A great part of HDLF interventions in Europe are developed by non-for-profit conservation organizations, which will be invited to explain their perspective on top of the more conventional academia research. Thus, the selected articles will contribute to fill in the gap between science and practitioners.
Keywords: agroecosystem, common agricultural policy, biodiversity strategy, agricultural intensification, paris agreement
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