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Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 49; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040049

Combining Multifunctionality and Ecosystem Services into a Win-Win Solution. The Case Study of the Serchio River Basin (Tuscany—Italy)

Department of Agricultural, Food and Agro-Environmental Sciences, University of Pisa, Pisa 56124, Italy
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Academic Editors: Giaime Berti, Moya Kneafsey, Larry Lev, Irene Monasterolo and Sergio Schneider
Received: 12 July 2016 / Revised: 16 September 2016 / Accepted: 20 September 2016 / Published: 30 September 2016
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Abstract

Post-war development—characterized by intensive processes of urbanization, concentration of agriculture on the most fertile lands, and abandonment of mountainous and marginal areas—brought about negative environmental and socio-economic consequences. They have been particularly severe in terms of increase of hydrogeological risk, which is high in most Italian regions. Over time, there has been an increasing awareness of the multiple functions played by agriculture in terms of provision of Ecosystem Services (ES), which contribute fundamentally to human well-being. In particular, some ES provided by farmers may help to reduce the hydrogeological risk of territories prone to landslides and floods. In this framework, the paper presents as a case study the project “Farmers as Custodians of a Territory.” This project was implemented in the Serchio River basin, Tuscany (Italy), and combines a multifunctional farm strategy of diversification with the provision of Ecosystem Services related to the hydraulic and hydrogeological protection of the river-basin territory. Although this case study should be read within the framework of the theories of agricultural multifunctionality and ES provision, it nevertheless took a very pragmatic and innovative approach, which differentiates it from most of the case studies given in the literature. Results of our analysis show that, by involving farmers as custodians of the territory, it is possible to reach a “win-win” solution characterized, on the one hand, by better services for the community at a lower cost for the Land Reclamation Consortia involved with hydrogeological risk prevention, thus improving the effectiveness and efficiency of ES provision; and on the other hand, by improving the economic situation and survival chances of local farms. View Full-Text
Keywords: agricultural multifunctionality; multifunctional rural development strategies; farm diversification strategies; ecosystem services; payments for ecosystem services; flood prevention; farmers as custodian or guardian of a territory; Serchio basin; Tuscany agricultural multifunctionality; multifunctional rural development strategies; farm diversification strategies; ecosystem services; payments for ecosystem services; flood prevention; farmers as custodian or guardian of a territory; Serchio basin; Tuscany
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Rovai, M.; Andreoli, M. Combining Multifunctionality and Ecosystem Services into a Win-Win Solution. The Case Study of the Serchio River Basin (Tuscany—Italy). Agriculture 2016, 6, 49.

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