In a world with rapidly growing demands for food and energy, one of the most important issues for European agricultural policy is to achieve sustainable agricultural production while still maintaining biodiversity and provisioning of public goods such as recreation and clean water. One promising alternative to the conventional way of improving yields through chemical inputs is “ecological intensification”, i.e. increasing the agricultural production by promoting biodiversity and ecosystem services such as nutrient retention, pollination and biological control.
Current policies and agri-environment schemes aiming at enhancing biodiversity often focus on the management of individual farms. Ecosystem services, however, may be generated and affected by actions at different spatial scales, also beyond the farm level. Thus, to efficiently promote ecosystem services, coordinated actions at landscape level may be required, stretching beyond individual farms.
MULTAGRI therefore aims at identifying relevant spatial scales for managing ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. We will specifically look at mechanisms for how to promote ecosystem services that benefit both agricultural production (i.e. increase yields) and public goods (e.g. nutrient retention or recreation). Finally, we will evaluate how payments for public goods and ecosystem services and existing governance structures affect agricultural development, and whether European agricultural policies have the potential to result in suitable management actions.
To do this, MULTAGRI involves scientists from a variety of different fields including ecology, economics, agronomy and social sciences. To ensure relevant research questions and efficient dissemination of results, key stakeholders, such as policy-makers, farmers and the general public, will be closely involved throughout the project.
We hope that results generated from the MULTAGRI project will contribute to the development of European policies to promote multifunctional agricultural landscapes and rural development.