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Open AccessArticle

A Values-Based Approach to Exploring Synergies between Livestock Farming and Landscape Conservation in Galicia (Spain)

Department of Applied Economics, Faculty of Business and Tourism, University of Vigo, Campus Universitario As Lagoas s/n, 32004 Ourense, Spain
Department of Applied Economics IV, Faculty of Social Work, Complutense University of Madrid, Campus de Somosaguas, 28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón, Spain
Farming Systems Ecology Group, Department of Plant Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
Rural Sociology Group, Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 1987;
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 25 October 2017 / Accepted: 26 October 2017 / Published: 31 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Resources Economics)
The path to sustainable development involves creating coherence and synergies in the complex relationships between economic and ecological systems. In sustaining their farm businesses farmers’ differing values influence their decisions about agroecosystem management, leading them to adopt diverging farming practices. This study explores the values of dairy and beef cattle farmers, the assumptions that underpin them, and the various ways that these lead farmers to combine food production with the provision of other ecosystem services, such as landscape conservation and biodiversity preservation. This paper draws on empirical research from Galicia (Spain), a marginal and mountainous European region whose livestock production system has undergone modernization in recent decades, exposing strategic economic, social and ecological vulnerabilities. It applies a Q-methodology to develop a values-based approach to farming. Based on a sample of 24 livestock farmers, whose practices promote landscape conservation and/or biodiversity preservation, the Q-methodology allowed us to identify four ‘farming styles’. Further analysis of the practices of the farmers in these groups, based on additional farm data and interview material, suggests that all 24 farmers valorize landscape and nature and consider cattle production and nature conservation to be compatible within their own farm practices. However, the groups differed in the extent to which they have developed synergies between livestock farming and landscape conservation. We conclude by discussing how rural development policy in Galicia could strengthen such practices by providing incentives to farmers and institutionally embedding a shift towards more diversified farming and product development. View Full-Text
Keywords: farming styles; ecological capital; natural resource management; rural development farming styles; ecological capital; natural resource management; rural development
MDPI and ACS Style

Swagemakers, P.; Dominguez Garcia, M.D.; Onofa Torres, A.; Oostindie, H.; Groot, J.C.J. A Values-Based Approach to Exploring Synergies between Livestock Farming and Landscape Conservation in Galicia (Spain). Sustainability 2017, 9, 1987.

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