The devil is in the detail: where does climate change stands on the conservation of High Nature Value farmlands biodiversity?

Authors and Affiliations: 

Buchadas, A. 1, Moreira, F. 1,2, Honrado, J. 1 Lomba, A. 1

1 CIBIO/Inbio, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos da Universidade do Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, Vairão (Portugal)
2 CEABN-InBIO, Centro de Ecologia Aplicada ‘Professor Baeta Neves’, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa (Portugal)

Speaker: Angela Lomba

Corresponding author: 
Ana Buchadas

Agriculture represents one of the dominant forms of land management and a key driver of global change in the Anthropocene. Under the current scenario of rapid human population increase and concerns on food security, reconciling productive agricultural land use and biodiversity conservation is a major global challenge. Agriculture play both a negative and a positive role in the preservation of biodiversity. The spread and intensification of agriculture and consequently displacement of terrestrial habitats have heavily driven biodiversity loss (Gonthier et al., 2014). Concurrently, low intensity agricultural land use, has been acknowledged for its importance on the conservation of unique species-rich assemblages (farmland biodiversity). Such biodiversity is known to be dependent over much of their ranges on this form of human disturbance (Bignal, 1998), devising the concept of ‘High Nature Value farmlands’ (HNVf). HNVf are social-ecological systems in which traditional, low-intensity farming systems enabled the conservation of several species and habitats with high nature/conservation value (Lomba et al., 2015). HNV farming systems are currently challenged by socioeconomic changes that my lead to either complete abandonment or to the intensification of agriculture practices (Henle et al., 2008). Both, abandonment and intensification may result in the simplification of landscapes and loss of heterogeneity, ultimately driving a widespread decline in farmland biodiversity (Klimek et al., 2014). Simultaneously, climate change has been acknowledge as driver of biodiversity change and the need for study of its interaction with other global change drivers, as land use change, has been highlighted (Oliver and Morecroft 2014). In the European Union, this problematic has been tackled by the creation of environmental policies, e.g. agri-environment schemes (Farmer et al., 2008) which aim to halt such trends. Recent research has focused on the contributions of conservation and environmental policies in preserving biodiversity (e.g. Kleijn et al., 2011) and on impacts of land-use change on HNVf biodiversity (e.g Plieninger et al., 2014), but few studies tackled the effects of climate change on such farmlands biodiversity. We present results from an analysis of data-driven research targeting traditional farmlands biodiversity and climate change as a key driver. Built on a comprehensive analysis of the literature, major research gaps are identified and future perspectives highlighted.


AL is supported by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) through Post-Doctoral Grant SFRH/BPD/80747/2011. This research is a result of project FARSYD-2011–2016—POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016664, supported by Norte Portugal Regional Operational Programme (NORTE 2020), under the PORTUGAL 2020 Partnership Agreement, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and by national funds through FCT – Portuguese Science Foundation (PTDC/AAG-EC/5007/2014).


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Lomba, A., Alves, P., Jongman, R.H.G., McCracken, D.I., 2015. Reconciling nature conservation and traditional farming practices: a spatially explicit framework to assess the extent of High Nature Value farmlands in the European countryside. Ecology and Evolution 5, 1031-1044. 10.1002/ece3.1415

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