In this report, we explore how existing agro-environmental measures in Flanders can be optimized and investigate which potential new measures could be applied.  This study aims to contribute to the European goal to better combine agricultural production, agrobiodiversity conservation and the provision of ecosystem services.  The study includes two major parts: in the first part, the way how conventional agriculture and agrobiodiversity influence each other is discussed; the second part focuses on environmental measures that strengthening the positive and limiting the negative interactions between agriculture and biodiversity. Information has been collected from national and international literature and from local experts. The interactions between agriculture and agrobiodiversity are complex, and measures to improve these interactions are very diverse.  We distinguished 4 spheres of interactions: ·       Functional agrobiodiversity (FAB) is defined as biodiversity present in the agricultural landscape that can support agricultural production.  FAB contributes to agriculture via: (1) the improvement of soil quality, (2) crop pollination, (3) biological pest control, (4) influence on micro-climate, and (5) the availability of genetic diversity. ·       Competitive agrobiodiversity is responsible for pests, plant diseases, weeds and wildlife damage. ·       Agrobiodiversity also provide an important contribution to the delivery of ecosystem services of rural areas, such as water purification, water infiltration, water storage, erosion control, carbon sequestration, attractive landscapes, and habitat for species which are valued by society.   ·       On the other hand, land-use and agricultural practices can exercise a strong positive and/or negative impact on agrobiodiversity.  Measures that can improve the impact of agriculture on agrobiodiversity are related to improvement of the environmental quality (related to soil carbon content, water levels, nutrient concentrations); the provision of food sources and reproduction habitat between and within agricultural parcels; rational use of pesticides and veterinary pharmaceuticals; countering of habitat fragmentation; and increasing the variation of landscape structure and environmental conditions. Considering these interactions, agro-environmental measures can be broadened from a narrow focus to a certain number of farm species or specific environmental goals, to include functional and competitive biodiversity and ecosystem services.  Such more holistic approach will also affect agricultural production in a positive way, and can provide additional incentives to farmers to participate (besides the pure financial incentives). From this perspective, 20 existing agro-environmental schemes were analysed, and 17 new measures are proposed. For each measure, objective, technical issues, ecological principles, as well as an analysis of the expected effects on agrobiodiversity, ecosystem services and agricultural production and management are described. Also spatial scale, farm type and region where the measures could be applied are elaborated. A distinction was made between three scale levels: parcel, farm and landscape levels. The latter addresses the concern for more area-based implementation of measures (= one of the recommendations by the evaluation of the first Flemish Rural development programme). Most of the existing and proposed measures are applied in cattle farms and farms in proximity to the hydrological network. This is followed by arable farming and vegetable cultivation, whereas least measures are applied in fruit orchards and floriculture. This and previous studies showed that optimizing agro-environmental measures has to deal with two major issues: the necessity to increase the level of participation by farmers, and the need to improve the positive effects of the measures on agrobiodiversity. Consequently, not only technical but also organizational and governance-related aspects need to be addressed to achieve optimalisation.  For the farming sector, legal certainty for farming and clarity of the application domain of the measures, are important concerns.  For environmental sector, care for the environment and biodiversity as part of standard agricultural practise, is considered essential for the success of environmental schemes. Other important principles to optimize agro-environmental measures are differentiation according to farm type and the use of participative approaches. Moreover, an increased flexibility in techniques, location, application period or compensation system could enhance interest and effectiveness of the agro- environmental measures. All of this needs to be placed in the context of an area-based vision, with clear objectives for agriculture and agrobiodiversity, where it is clearly indicated how the measures (together with other policy instruments) will contribute to an area-based vision, and how farms can cooperate to achieve these goals. From this ecological and ecosystem services analysis, it became clear that the agro-environmental measures can effectively be optimized and further extended in Flanders. However, the convergence of agricultural development and biodiversity conservation by means of environmental schemes is only possible if they are part of a comprehensive policy for the Flemish rural areas.


agrobiodiversiteit, relatie landbouw en agrobiodiversiteit, agromilieumaatregelen, bedrijfstype


National {Cooperation status}


Name Role Start End
D'Haene, Karoline member 2010-01-01 2010-09-01
Turkelboom, Francis member 2010-01-01 2010-09-01
De Blust, Geert member 2010-01-01 2010-09-01
Van Gils, Bert member 2010-01-01 2010-09-01
Laurrijssens, Guy member 2010-01-01 2010-09-01


Name Role Start End
Social Sciences Unit member 2010-01-01 2010-09-01
OG Ecosysteemdiensten member 2010-01-01 2010-09-01


Reference Role
Agrobiodiversiteit. Een steunpilaar voor de 3de generatie agromilieumaatregelen? author

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:web

© 2012 by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform