Deliverable 4.3: Report on spatially explicit heat maps for multiple ES at farm and landscape level

 

 

 

 

Agriculture relies on multiple ecosystem services that are often associated with semi-natural habitats. Here we:

 

  • Analyse the spatial distribution of five ecosystem services (soil erosion prevention, conservation value for biodiversity, carbon sequestration, landscape aesthetic value, and biocontrol).

  • Explore synergies and trade-offs among these ecosystem services.

  • Identify landscape configurations that support multiple ecosystem services.

 

Evidence-based indicators were derived for the five ecosystems services and these were applied to landscape sectors in Germany and Hungary to generate heat maps for ecosystem services (ES). These heat maps indicated that ES provision levels can differ markedly between and within landscapes and were strongly associated with semi-natural habitats. In arable fields, soil organic matter can be increased by application of green manures, which can increase carbon sequestration, and also improve soil fertility, soil structure, water infiltration and water-holding capacity. Hence, the attained ecosystem service level depends on characteristics of the landscape (e.g. proportion of semi-natural habitats) and management (e.g. application of green manure).

 

When exploring trade-offs and synergies of alternative landscape designs, trade-offs were observed between aesthetic and conservation value, whereas synergies were observed between aesthetic value and carbon sequestration (in terms of soil organic matter), the prevention of soil erosion and aesthetic value, and biocontrol and carbon sequestration. The exploration of alternative landscape configurations for multiple ecosystem services indicated that the configuration of the Hungarian landscape sector was more favourable for supporting multiple ES than the German landscape sector. Collaboration between actors offers scope for the redesign of agricultural landscapes that better support multiple ecosystem services.

Main conclusions for stakeholders

Agriculture relies on multiple ecosystem services that are often associated with semi-natural habitats. In this study, we investigated how the presence of woody and herbaceous semi-natural habitats influenced the prevention of soil erosion, conservation value for biodiversity, carbon sequestration, landscape aesthetics, and biocontrol. For this purpose we developed maps of the spatial distribution of these five ecosystem services for landscapes in Germany and Hungary. The maps indicated that ecosystem service provision levels can differ markedly between and within landscapes and are strongly associated with semi-natural habitats.

 

For instance, woody and herbaceous semi-natural habitats sequestered carbon in the soil, supported populations of natural enemies that can provide pest suppression services in crops, played an important role in the conservation of spiders, prevented soil erosion, and also contributed to the aesthetic value of the landscapes. Soil organic matter in arable fields can be increased by adding green manures, for instance by growing a cover crop in winter, which can not only increase carbon sequestration, but also improve soil fertility, soil structure, water infiltration and water holding capacity. Hence, the attained ecosystem service levels depend on characteristics of the landscape (e.g. proportion of semi-natural habitats) and management (e.g. application of green manure).

 

The analysis of multiple ecosystem services in the German and Hungarian landscape revealed that the current configuration/management of the Hungarian landscape was quite favourable, while there was much room for strengthening ecosystem services in the German landscape. Collaboration between actors offers scope for the redesign of agricultural landscapes that better support multiple ecosystem services.

Main conclusions for policymakers

Agriculture relies on multiple supporting ecosystem services that are often associated with semi-natural habitats. However, trade-offs may arise between supporting ecosystem services, or between ecosystem services and agricultural production. Here we investigated the spatial distribution of five ecosystem services (soil erosion prevention, conservation value for biodiversity, carbon sequestration, landscape aesthetic value, and biocontrol) in a German and Hungarian case study, and assessed the interactions among the ecosystem services. Heat maps for the five ecosystem services indicated that provisioning levels can differ markedly between and within landscapes and were strongly associated with semi-natural habitats.

 

In arable fields soil organic matter can be increased by application of green manures, which can increase carbon sequestration, and also improve soil fertility, soil structure, water infiltration and water holding capacity. Hence, the attained ecosystem service level depends on characteristics of the landscape (e.g. proportion of semi-natural habitats) and management (e.g. application of green manure).

 

The analysis of multiple ecosystem services in a German and Hungarian case study revealed that the current configuration/management of the Hungarian landscape was quite favourable, while there was much room for strengthening ecosystem services in the German landscape. When exploring trade-offs and synergies of alternative landscape designs trade-offs were observed between aesthetic and conservation value, whereas synergies were observed between aesthetic value and carbon sequestration (in terms of soil organic matter), the prevention of soil erosion and aesthetic value, and biocontrol and carbon sequestration.

 

While some ecosystem services can be managed at the field and farm level (e.g. carbon sequestration by application of green manure), many ecosystem services operate at spatial scales exceeding the farm scale (e.g. aesthetic value, biodiversity conservation and biocontrol which depends on mobile natural enemies of pests). Therefore, there is need to these manage ecosystem services at the landscape scale, which requires collaboration between actors in agricultural landscapes. Policy instruments should accommodate efforts of actors that support ecosystem services that benefit the broader public.

Abbreviations:

SNH

Semi-natural Habitat

WP

Work Package

ES

Ecological Services