26 March 2017

New papers describing the ecosystem services of agroforestry

Three papers have been published, with the support of the AGFORWARD project, describing new assessments of the ecosystem services of selected agroforestry practices in Europe.


A paper led by Nora Fagerholm, from the University of Copenhagen, has the aim of understanding the importance of ecosystem services from agroforestry for local people in a spatially explicit way at the landscape scale, and of revealing how agroforestry landscapes contribute to subjective well-being. The study, which was conducted in a Spanish dehesa agroforestry landscape, interviewed 219 members of the general public using public participation GIS. The typical interviewee identified 12 significant local sites of ecosystem service provision. The study showed that urban spaces, common land, and areas that provide opportunities for meeting with family and friends or for tranquility and relaxation were identified more frequently than their areal extent would suggest. Although the areas of dehesa agroforestry were valued for their ecosystem services, the cultural benefits from such areas was partly limited because they were typically in private ownership; by contrast there was greater public access to some grassland areas.


In Romania, Tibi Hartel has led a paper looking at the response of farmers to scattered trees in wood-pastures. The paper determined the responses of 22 people (pilot stage) and a further 92 people to three categories of trees found in wood-pasture: mature, old and collapsed. It is noteworthy that young trees were not considered. Mature trees were appreciated mostly for tangible values such as shade for livestock, with older interviewees also identifying benefits such as acorns or tree hay. Large old trees were appreciated for their age, beauty, and cultural value; there was generally little appreciation of their biodiversity value. Lastly the primary response to collapsed trees was that they should be removed from the wood-pasture. The paper concludes that education about the multiple values of trees is critical if a diverse range of tree ages is to be created or maintained.


The third paper led by Pablo Garrido (and involving AGFORWARD researchers Tobias Plieninger, Fernando Pulido, and Gerardo Moreno) examines stakeholder perspectives of the ecosystem services obtained from dehesas in Western Spain. The research involved 34 face-to-face semi-structured interviews and the participants identified a total of 45 ecosystem services; a high value. The paper explains that whilst agriculture may be becoming less important, eco-tourism, bird watching and recreational big game hunting are increasing. In general, participants from different sectors (i.e. civil, private, and public) placed similar weighting on the main categories of ecosystem services i.e. provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting. However local stakeholders tended to place a greater emphasis on food production than regional stakeholders who placed greater weight on supporting and regulating services like biodiversity and improving water quality. All of the participants placed substantial value on the cultural services of the dehesa. However it remains difficult to capture this value in the market value of products (although Protected Designation of Origin is a potential option) although agrotourism is possible. Because of its importance, the paper implies that there should be measures that specifically support the cultural value of farming systems such as the dehesa.


The three papers can be accessed through the following website.

  • Fagerholm, N., Oteros-Rozas, E., Raymond, C.M., Torralba, M., Moreno, G., Plieninger, T. (2016). Assessing linkages between ecosystem services, land-use and well-being in an agroforestry landscape using public participation GIS. Applied Geography 74, 30-46. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2016.06.007
  • Hartel, T., Réti, K.-O., Craioveanu, C. (2016). Valuing scattered trees from wood-pastures by farmers in a traditional rural region of Eastern Europe. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 236, 304-311. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2016.11.019
  • Garrido, P., Elbakidze, M., Angelstam, P., Plieninger, T., Pulido, F., Moreno, G. (2017). Stakeholder perspectives of wood-pasture ecosystem services: A case study from Iberian dehesas. Land Use Policy 60, 324–333. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2016.10.022

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