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Beautiful agricultural landscapes promote cultural ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Abstract

Agriculture, during its millenarian history, had contributed to shape impressive cultural landscapes; however, in recent decades, many of these have been lost or degraded because of widespread intensification or abandonment. Low-intensive agricultural landscapes are of utmost importance for biodiversity conservation and the delivery of cultural ecosystem services. We worked in a cultural landscape shaped by viticulture (in Trentino, Italy), which recently underwent a widespread intensification. We explicitly quantified two cultural services (aesthetic and cultural heritage values), and the biodiversity (bird species richness) associated with this landscape at 24 sampling sites. We then related these variables with the territory density of an indicator/flagship bird species, the common redstart. Finally, we assessed redstart ecological requirements at the territory scale. We aimed to define an appealing strategy combining biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service delivery in the cultural landscapes. Redstart density was positively related with avian species richness and landscape aesthetic value, the latter being related with the cultural heritage value. Redstart occurrence was positively associated with hedge and tree rows, dry-stone walls, marginal habitats, and the compositional diversity of the land-cover. We concluded that managing the agricultural landscape to maintain aesthetic and heritage values, which primarily means conserving and enhancing its key 'traditional' traits, would favour an indicator/flagship species and likely the wider bird diversity. It will also promote the heritage and recreational value of the landscape itself, underlining the importance of the synergistic integration of multiple conservation targets into a combined strategy.

Author(s): Assandri, G; Bogliani, G; Pedrini, P; Brambilla, M

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2018

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