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Conference Papers Year : 2017

Forests for agriculture: new perspectives in European landscapes

Abstract

During the last centuries, most of the European landscapes have been strongly impacted by the increasing disconnection between farming and forestry. When agriculture developed, it was to the detriment of the forest, and even in regulations, forest and agriculture were rarely considered as linked issues. This disconnection is also true for scientific research, as agronomy and forest sciences followed parallel routes for decades. However, landscape ecology is one of the few disciplines where both were almost equally considered as components of a same complex system. In this presentation, we argue that in the future, stronger links between forest and agriculture will become more important and that we need to engage our research towards a better understanding of how these two landscape components interact. We identified 4 types of links between agriculture and forests. The first one is that classical forest wood-based products (timber, firewood) could become parts of farming activities. The demand for wood-based energy is forecasted to increase in the near future, as it is a renewable source of energy easily available. Farmers can benefit from additional economic resources provided by wood product sale, and they have also the need for energy. They have and access to this scattered resource, and they have the relevant skills to use the equipment for logging. Thus, the role of farmers in the increase of forest harvesting, and its consequences, must be anticipated. The second one is the ability of forests to produce useful resources for agriculture. There are several examples, such as the use of fence posts, of wood chips as litter for living stocks, or of charcoal in crops. With a better knowledge of these resources, farmers may reduce their dependency to external sources and contribute to local markets. Ecosystems services is the third, and very important, interaction. There is a growing literature that shows how many very important ecosystem services for agriculture are related to the surrounding natural habitats, and especially forests. They are shelters for organisms who help pest regulation in crops, or for pollinators, or for local climate buffering. Landscape ecology has a lot to say about these ecosystemic interactions and should focus more on how forest management may be modified to provide better services to nearby agriculture. Finally, many of the agroecological recommendations are basically inspired by the functioning of forests and how these ecosystems are able to stay productive and resilient. Agriculture has a lot to learn from forest science, and these scientific links must be supported. These perspectives open up new questions for landscape ecology and they are arguments for a more systemic understanding of the complexity of landscapes, including equally forest and agriculture (and other land uses), towards a better management of the full range of available natural resources.
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hal-01821392 , version 1 (02-07-2018)

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Marc Deconchat, Émilie Andrieu. Forests for agriculture: new perspectives in European landscapes. IUFRO 8.01.02 Landscape Ecology Conference 2017, Sep 2017, Halle, Germany. pp.0. ⟨hal-01821392⟩
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