Skip to main content

Towards multifunctional land use in an agricultural landscape: A trade-off and synergy analysis in the Lower Fraser Valley, Canada

Landscape and Urban Planning


Hedgerows and riparian buffers in agricultural landscapes can help increase landscape multifunctionality and thereby mitigate conflicts among agricultural production and environmental stewardship objectives. However, the relative merits of conserving versus increasing non-production perennial vegetation (NPPV) are not well understood despite the universal conflicts among such objectives in rapidly urbanizing and intensifying agricultural regions worldwide. Hence, using the most intensive agricultural region of British Columbia, Canada as a case study, we aimed to (i) evaluate the current status of NPPV in terms of carbon stocks and landscape connectivity metrics (ii) compare options for conservation relative to agricultural expansion in terms of maintenance of landscape multifunctionality (iii) identify management options for NPPV that could maximize ecological benefits using a normative scenario analysis. We determined that 83% of the NPPV found on the farmland in our study area is likely susceptible to conversion to expanding agricultural production or urban development. Scenario analysis showed planting hedgerows along all farm parcel boundaries and riparian buffers along all farmscape waterways will not compensate for the loss of multifunctionality from agricultural intensification based on expansion. Conserving or planting hedgerows alone however resulted in a disproportionate increase in connectivity given the relative loss of productive agricultural land. This analysis clearly highlights the potential trade-offs among the indicators evaluated as well as the benefits of intensification on land already in production. In the assessed landscape, protecting existing large patches of NPPV and augmenting the landscape pattern with hedgerows is an effective approach to conflicting objectives and ensuring landscape multifunctionality.

Author(s): Rallings, AM; Smukler, SM; Gergel, SE; Mullinix, K

Journal: Landscape and Urban Planning

Year: 2019