"Among the ecosystem services provided by European agriculture, the conservation of biodiversity and agricultural landscapes are predominant. High Nature Value (HNV) farmland located in less favoured areas play a central role in the conservation of habitats and species. However, biodiversity continues to be lost at an unprecedented rate, with trends projected to become worse. Current processes of abandonment of marginal farmland and intensification are pointed as the major threats for the conservation of biodiversity and cultural landscapes in Europe.
Agricultural Policy plays a very important role in achieving environmental objectives and there is a shift towards promoting the supply of environmental goods (green payments). But the incorporation of environmental indicators into policy design requires the valuation of externalities that do not have market value and are difficult to measure, as different temporal and spatial scales operate.
The main objectives of the research project are: i) to obtain agri-environmental indicators to assess the ecosystem services provided by HNV agriculture; ii) to design an indicator-based framework to evaluate the environmental impacts and sustainability of agricultural practice; iii) to analyse trade-offs and synergies between food production and environmental services; and iv) to define recommendations for policy design.
This project covers 3 HNV mountain agro-ecosystems located in Norway and Spain, representing different ecological and socio-economic contexts in Europe. The work will be structured around 2 broad activities: a) measuring the interactions between HNV agriculture and landscape/ biodiversity attributes to obtain relevant agri-environmental indicators, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative (choice modelling) methods; b) designing a definite framework for quantitative evaluation of ecosystem services and sustainability analysis of HNV farmland in order to support policy making."
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