Special Issue "Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (22 November 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Diane Pearson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Farmed Landscape Research Centre, School of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Palmerston North 24300, New Zealand
Interests: landscape ecology; sustainable landscape management; ecosystem services; land system change; environmental management
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Richard Aspinall
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Honorary Research Fellow, James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, Scotland, UK
Interests: land systems science; land use; GIS; sustainability; environmental change; landscape ecology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Mr. Julian Gorman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Lecturer, School of People Environment and Planning, Massey University, 4442 Palmerston North, New Zealand
Interests: sustainable use of wildlife; land and natural resource management; indigenous livelihoods

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agriculture in the coming century faces new and urgent pressures, with mounting social, environmental, and economic challenges. Climate change will alter the prevalence and capacity of farming and forestry across regions; it is likely that flooding and drought events will increase in frequency, and water quality and quantity will become increasingly problematic. Additionally, biodiversity is declining, biosecurity threats abound, market influences are changing, and there are heightened concerns around the relationship between animal protein and human health. There is also growing public intolerance for the cumulated environmental impacts from the agricultural sector, requiring a need to adopt more of a social licence to operate into the future. This is all set in a framework where there is a need to feed a growing global population, putting pressure on marginal and previously unproductive land to be considered for production or intensification.

The holistic and multidisciplinary nature of landscape ecology positions it aptly to be ready to not only address the challenges facing agriculture, but also to offer advice on how to plan, design, modify, and develop new landscapes with the best environmental, economic, and social outcomes in mind. It should be able to provide appropriate tools, approaches, and frameworks that can facilitate the action, knowledge, and advice required to help work towards the creation of future farming systems that meet societal needs, respond to the environmental challenges, and that can sit within sustainable landscapes and societies.  This Special Issue will explore these contributions and discuss the evolving roles for landscape ecology in future agricultural systems. 

In this Special Issue, we invite papers focusing on, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • How landscape ecology can assist in the planning, design, modification, and development of new farming landscapes with the best environmental, economic, and social outcomes in mind;
  • How landscape ecology can contribute towards increasing food production in the face of market and climatic variability whilst reducing environmental impacts;
  • How landscape ecology can assist in the transformative change required for the socioeconomic and environmental systems of rural areas and food production for the future.

Prof. Dr. Diane Pearson
Prof. Dr. Richard Aspinall
Mr. Julian Gorman
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • agricultural landscapes
  • sustainable landscapes
  • landscape planning and design
  • land use
  • land systems
  • natural capital
  • ecosystem services
  • socioecological systems
  • cultural landscapes

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Using the Ecosystem Services Concept to Assess Transformation of Agricultural Landscapes in the European Alps
Land 2022, 11(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010049 - 30 Dec 2021
Viewed by 240
Abstract
Mountain farming sustains human well-being by providing various ecosystem services (ES). In the last decades, socio-economic developments have led to worldwide changes in land-use/cover (LULC), but the related effects on ES have not been fully explored. This study aimed at assessing the impacts [...] Read more.
Mountain farming sustains human well-being by providing various ecosystem services (ES). In the last decades, socio-economic developments have led to worldwide changes in land-use/cover (LULC), but the related effects on ES have not been fully explored. This study aimed at assessing the impacts of the transformation of agricultural land on ES in the European Alps. We mapped 19 ES within the agriculturally used areas in the year 2000 and analyzed LULC changes by 2018. We compared eight regions with a similar development, regarding social–ecological characteristics, to outline contrasting trends. Our results indicate that the ES decreased most strongly in regions with a massive abandonment of mountain grassland, while ES in the ‘traditional agricultural region’ remained the most stable. In regions with an intensification of agriculture, together with urban sprawl, ES had the lowest values. Across all regions, a shift from ES that are typically associated with mountain farming towards forest-related ES occurred, due to forest regrowth. By relating differing trends in ES to social–ecological developments, we can discuss our findings regarding new landscapes and farming systems across the European Alps. Our quantitative and spatially explicit findings provide a valuable basis for policy development, from the regional to the international/EU level, and for adopting sustainable management strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Article
Emergent Properties of Land Systems: Nonlinear Dynamics of Scottish Farming Systems from 1867 to 2020
Land 2021, 10(11), 1172; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10111172 - 01 Nov 2021
Viewed by 345
Abstract
Dynamics of arable and pastoral farming systems in Scotland over the period 1867–2020 are documented using time series analysis methods, including for nonlinear dynamical systems. Results show arable and pastoral farming, at a national scale, are dynamic over a range of timescales, with [...] Read more.
Dynamics of arable and pastoral farming systems in Scotland over the period 1867–2020 are documented using time series analysis methods, including for nonlinear dynamical systems. Results show arable and pastoral farming, at a national scale, are dynamic over a range of timescales, with medium- and short-term dynamics associated with endogenous system forces and exogenous factors, respectively. Medium-term dynamics provide evidence of endogenous systems-level feedbacks between farming sectors responding to change in world and national cereal prices as an economic driver, and act to dampen impacts of exogenous shocks and events (weather, disease). Regime shifts are identified in national cereal prices. Results show change and dynamics as emergent properties of system interactions. Changes in dynamics and strength of endogenous dampening over the duration of the study are associated with dynamical changes from major governmental policy decisions that altered the boundary conditions for interdependencies of arable and pastoral farming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Article
Pollination Potential in Portugal: Leveraging an Ecosystem Service for Sustainable Agricultural Productivity
Land 2021, 10(4), 431; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040431 - 17 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 789
Abstract
As urbanization and agriculture increase worldwide, habitats and food sources for wild pollinators are often fragmented or destroyed. As wild pollinators contribute both resilience and variety to agricultural fields, it is desirable to implement land management practices that preserve their well-being and ability [...] Read more.
As urbanization and agriculture increase worldwide, habitats and food sources for wild pollinators are often fragmented or destroyed. As wild pollinators contribute both resilience and variety to agricultural fields, it is desirable to implement land management practices that preserve their well-being and ability to contribute to food production systems. This study evaluates continental Portugal for its change in suitability to host bee’s pollinator species (Apis mellifera) from 1990 to 2018. It uses the InVEST crop pollination modeling tool and CORINE Land Cover, as well as parameterization to produce pollinator abundance and supply maps. These are generalized to municipality boundaries to provide actionable insights to farmers and policymakers and strengthen land management practices. It finds that the potential for pollination services is growing, with averages of both pollinator abundance and supply indices improving by 8.76% across the continental territory in 28 years. The study results are validated using another pollination index derived from a study that is based on expert opinion and field sampling in a sub-region of Portugal. This method of aggregation of model results and comparison of the percent difference by administrative boundary has the potential to better inform both policymakers and farmers about the pollination potential on a local level, as well as inspire interventions for future productivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Article
Modelling the Impacts of Habitat Changes on the Population Density of Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis) Based on Its Landscape Preferences
Land 2021, 10(3), 306; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10030306 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 646
Abstract
The dramatic decline of the abundance of farmland bird species can be related to the level of land-use intensity or the land-cover heterogeneity of rural landscapes. Our study area in central Europe (Hungary) included 3049 skylark observation points and their 600 m buffer [...] Read more.
The dramatic decline of the abundance of farmland bird species can be related to the level of land-use intensity or the land-cover heterogeneity of rural landscapes. Our study area in central Europe (Hungary) included 3049 skylark observation points and their 600 m buffer zones. We used a very detailed map (20 × 20 m minimum mapping unit), the Hungarian Ecosystem Basemap, as a land-cover dataset for the calculation of three landscape indices: mean patch size (MPS), mean fractal dimension (MFRACT), and Shannon diversity index (SDI) to describe the landscape structure of the study areas. Generalized linear models were used to analyze the effect of land-cover types and landscape patterns on the abundance of the Eurasian skylark (Alauda arvensis). According to our findings, the proportions of arable land, open sand steppes, closed grassland patches, and shape complexity and size characteristics of these land cover patches have a positive effect on skylark abundance, while the SDI was negatively associated with the skylark population. On the basis of the used statistical model, the abundance density (individuals/km*) of skylarks could be estimated with 37.77% absolute percentage error and 2.12 mean absolute error. We predicted the skylark population density inside the Natura 2000 Special Protected Area of Hungary which is 0–6 individuals/km* and 23746 ± 8968 skylarks. The results can be implemented for the landscape management of rural landscapes, and the method used are adaptable for the density estimation of other farmland bird species in rural landscapes. According to our findings, inside the protected areas should increase the proportion, the average size and shape complexity of arable land, salt steppes and meadows, and closed grassland land cover patches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Article
Structural Variations in the Composition of Land Funds at Regional Scales across Russia
Land 2020, 9(6), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9060201 - 17 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1224
Abstract
In recent decades, Russia has experienced substantial transformations in agricultural land tenure. Post-Soviet reforms have shaped land distribution patterns but the impacts of these on agricultural use of land remain under-investigated. On a regional scale, there is still a knowledge gap in terms [...] Read more.
In recent decades, Russia has experienced substantial transformations in agricultural land tenure. Post-Soviet reforms have shaped land distribution patterns but the impacts of these on agricultural use of land remain under-investigated. On a regional scale, there is still a knowledge gap in terms of knowing to what extent the variations in the compositions of agricultural land funds may be explained by changes in the acreage of other land categories. Using a case analysis of 82 of Russia’s territories from 2010 to 2018, the authors attempted to study the structural variations by picturing the compositions of regional land funds and mapping agricultural land distributions based on ranking “land activity”. Correlation analysis of centered log-ratio transformed compositional data revealed that in agriculture-oriented regions, the proportion of cropland was depressed by agriculture-to-urban and agriculture-to-industry land loss. In urbanized territories, the compositions of agricultural land funds were predominantly affected by changes in the acreage of industrial, transportation, and communication lands. In underpopulated territories in the north and far east of Russia, the acreages of cropland and perennial planting were strongly correlated with those of disturbed and barren lands. As the first attempt at such analysis in Russia, the conversion of cadastral classification data into land-rating values enabled the identification of region-to-region mismatches between the cadaster-based mapping and ranking-based distribution of agricultural lands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Article
Leveraging Traditional Agroforestry Practices to Support Sustainable and Agrobiodiverse Landscapes in Southern Brazil
Land 2020, 9(6), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9060176 - 01 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1195
Abstract
Integrated landscape approaches have been identified as key to addressing competing social, ecological, economic, and political contexts and needs in landscapes as a means to improve and preserve agrobiodiversity. Despite the consistent calls to integrate traditional and local knowledge and a range of [...] Read more.
Integrated landscape approaches have been identified as key to addressing competing social, ecological, economic, and political contexts and needs in landscapes as a means to improve and preserve agrobiodiversity. Despite the consistent calls to integrate traditional and local knowledge and a range of stakeholders in the process of developing integrated landscape approaches, there continues to be a disconnect between international agreements, national policies, and local grassroots initiatives. This case study explores an approach to address such challenges through true transdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder research and outreach to develop solutions for integrated landscapes that value and include the experience and knowledge of local communities and farmers. Working collaboratively with small-scale agroforestry farmers in Southern Brazil who continue to use traditional agroecological practices to produce erva-mate (Ilex paraguariensis), our transdisciplinary team is working to collect oral histories, document local ecological knowledge, and support farmer-led initiatives to address a range of issues, including profitability, productivity, and legal restrictions on forest use. By leveraging the knowledge across our network, we are developing and testing models to optimize and scale-out agroforestry and silvopastoral systems based on our partners’ traditional practices, while also supporting the implementation of approaches that expand forest cover, increase biodiversity, protect and improve ecosystem services, and diversify the agricultural landscape. In so doing, we are developing a strong evidence base that can begin to challenge current environmental policies and commonly held misconceptions that threaten the continuation of traditional agroforestry practices, while also offering locally adapted and realistic models that can be used to diversify the agricultural landscape in Southern Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Article
Old Ways, New Ways—Scaling Up from Customary Use of Plant Products to Commercial Harvest Taking a Multifunctional, Landscape Approach
Land 2020, 9(5), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9050171 - 25 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1418
Abstract
Globally, the agricultural sector is facing many challenges in response to climate change, unsustainable farming practices and human population growth. Despite advances in technology and innovation in agriculture, governments around the world are recognizing a need for transformative agricultural systems that offer solutions [...] Read more.
Globally, the agricultural sector is facing many challenges in response to climate change, unsustainable farming practices and human population growth. Despite advances in technology and innovation in agriculture, governments around the world are recognizing a need for transformative agricultural systems that offer solutions to the interrelated issues of food security, climate change, and conservation of environmental and cultural values. Approaches to production are needed that are holistic and multisectoral. In planning for future agricultural models, it is worth exploring indigenous agricultural heritage systems that have demonstrated success in community food security without major environmental impacts. We demonstrate how indigenous practices of customary harvest, operating in multifunctional landscapes, can be scaled up to service new markets while still maintaining natural and cultural values. We do this through a case analysis of the wild harvest of Kakadu plum fruit by Aboriginal people across the tropical savannas of northern Australia. We conclude that this system would ideally operate at a landscape scale to ensure sustainability of harvest, maintenance of important patterns and processes for landscape health, and incorporate cultural and livelihood objectives. Applied to a variety of similar native products, such a production system has potential to make a substantial contribution to niche areas of global food and livelihood security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Review

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Review
Developing a Landscape Design Approach for the Sustainable Land Management of Hill Country Farms in New Zealand
Land 2020, 9(6), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9060185 - 03 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1877
Abstract
Landscape modification associated with agricultural intensification has brought considerable challenges for the sustainable development of New Zealand hill country farms. Addressing these challenges requires an appropriate approach to support farmers and design a better landscape that can have beneficial environmental outcomes whilst ensuring [...] Read more.
Landscape modification associated with agricultural intensification has brought considerable challenges for the sustainable development of New Zealand hill country farms. Addressing these challenges requires an appropriate approach to support farmers and design a better landscape that can have beneficial environmental outcomes whilst ensuring continued profitability. In this paper we suggest using geodesign and theories drawn from landscape ecology to plan and design multifunctional landscapes that offer improved sustainability for hill country farm systems and landscapes in New Zealand. This approach suggests that better decisions can be made by considering the major landscape services that are, and could be, provided by the landscapes in which these farm systems are situated. These important services should be included in future landscape design of hill country by creating a patterning and configuration of landscape features that actively maintains or restores important landscape functioning. This will help to improve landscape health and promote landscape resilience in the face of climate change. Through illustrating the potential of this type of approach for wider adoption we believe that the proposed conceptual framework offers a valuable reference for sustainable farm system design that can make an important contribution to advancing environmental management globally as well as in New Zealand. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Review
Key Roles for Landscape Ecology in Transformative Agriculture Using Aotearoa—New Zealand as a Case Example
Land 2020, 9(5), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9050146 - 11 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1497
Abstract
Aotearoa—New Zealand (NZ) is internationally renowned for picturesque landscapes and agricultural products. Agricultural intensification has been economically beneficial to NZ but has implications for its clean green image. Contaminated waterways, high carbon emissions, and extensive soil erosion demonstrate the downside of high stocking [...] Read more.
Aotearoa—New Zealand (NZ) is internationally renowned for picturesque landscapes and agricultural products. Agricultural intensification has been economically beneficial to NZ but has implications for its clean green image. Contaminated waterways, high carbon emissions, and extensive soil erosion demonstrate the downside of high stocking rates and land clearing. Transformative farming systems are required to address the challenge of balancing production with the environment. Whilst navigating through the process of change, farmers need to be supported to make informed decisions at the farm and landscape scale. Landscape ecology (LE) is ideally positioned to inform the development of future farming landscapes and provide a scientific context to the criteria against which land-related information can be evaluated. However, to do this effectively, LE needs to demonstrate that it can link theory with practice. Using NZ as a case example, this paper discusses the key roles for LE in future farming systems. It looks at the way LE can help quantify the state of the landscape, provide support towards the co-creation of alternative futures, and assist with the inclusion of land-related information into design and planning to ensure mitigation and adaption responses assist in the transformation of farming systems for sustainable outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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