Managing ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes: are the solutions the same?

Published online
20 Jun 2012
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Macfadyen, S. & Cunningham, S. A. & Costamagna, A. C. & Schellhorn, N. A.
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Biodiversity conservation and agricultural production have traditionally been viewed as substantially in conflict and recent declines in biodiversity have been linked to intensive agricultural production. An increased use of ecosystem services to benefit agricultural production has been proposed as one strategy to enhance conservation of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes and attenuate this conflict. We use examples from the literature to examine the relationship between management of agricultural landscapes for the provision of ecosystem services and management for biodiversity conservation. We argue that although there is a relationship between biodiversity conservation and management for ecosystem services, it does not follow that focusing solely on one or the other will provide reciprocal benefits of the kind we should be seeking in land-use decision-making. We identify a number of asymmetries in the relationship between management for maximizing ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation. Actions that increase or protect biodiversity in an agricultural landscape will often indirectly help preserve ecosystem services, but actions that focus on enhancing ecosystem services will not necessarily provide good outcomes for biodiversity. Synthesis and applications. Synergies between agricultural productivity and biodiversity conservation can only be achieved if an understanding of ecosystem services leads to a change in management practice that supports greater biodiversity.

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